Worrying About Not Worrying

George W. Bush, over U.S. Presidential seal, gas prices and the number 47
AP / CBS
President Bush passed his recent physical with flying colors — and I mean "flying." He's 59 years old, but does not need cholesterol-lowering or blood pressure drugs. He eats healthy foods, and has lost 8 pounds since December. And the most amazing revelation is that his resting pulse is 47 beats per minute. That's not the kind of pulse rate usually associated with people in high-stress jobs or situations. It's the kind of pulse that well-trained athletes have.

To put it in perspective, the average pulse rate for a healthy male is about 72 beats per minute. (Unofficially, the average pulse rate for a writer on a deadline is 102). President Bush's remarkable 47 is down from an also exceptional 52 beats per minute in December. Obviously, I'm thrilled that he's in such good health. But I have to admit that part of me would feel more comfortable if his pulse were just a little bit higher.

I wouldn't want a president whose heart rate went off the charts every time there was a crisis in the world. But it would be nice if there were some indication that President Bush, like the rest of us, had some physical reactions to world events. History is filled with world leaders who grew old before their time, especially when their countries waged war. We can read about leaders who were unable to sleep, incapable of eating properly, and could never take their minds off the killing that was going on. I don't wish that on President Bush, but he seems to be on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum.

People have continued to die every day in Iraq, and his pulse hasn't gone up a beat. In fact, it's dropped five points since December.

Terrorists strike London, but his pulse is still a 47.

Opposition to the war, even from members of his own party, is at an all-time high this summer. He's still at 47.

Gas prices soar, and his pulse is still a 47.

The grieving mother of a young man killed in battle, Cindy Sheehan, wants to meet with the president a second time. He's still at 47.

She camps out near his ranch. 47.

People point out that to diffuse the situation, all he'd have to do is cut one of his bike rides short by twenty minutes and meet with her. He refuses. 47.