President relaxes, reads history at ranch

December 28, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

CRAWFORD, Texas -- It will be three years before George W. Bush becomes an ex-commander-in-chief, but he's already boning up on the post-retirement adventures of the Cowboy President.

Bush is reading When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House by Patricia O'Toole while he relaxes at his Texas ranch during the week between Christmas and New Year's, the White House said yesterday.

Roosevelt, who was only 50 when his second term ended in 1909, lived unusually large after leaving the White House, even by presidential standards.

He published 11 books, bagged 500 animals on an African safari, led an exploration of Brazil's uncharted jungles, mounted an unsuccessful third-party presidential bid on the Bull Moose ticket and survived a gunshot to the chest by a would-be assassin before dying in his sleep at age 60.

"TR is the perfect ex-president to study as a role model," said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Tulane University. "He attained almost bigger stature out of the White House than within."

Brinkley said O'Toole's book would demonstrate "the potential for adventures after the White House," a subject he said Bush was bound to be contemplating as he approaches the last half of his second term.

Not so fast, said White House Deputy Press Secretary Trent Duffy, who insisted that Bush was not yet daydreaming about escaping the hostile political landscape of Washington and retiring to the friendlier terrain of central Texas.

"The president knows full well that he's got a lot of time left in this second term, and he's going to accomplish big things, as he has talked about repeatedly," Duffy told reporters in Crawford, a few miles from the Bush ranch.

Duffy said the Roosevelt book was recommended to Bush by NBC News anchor Brian Williams: "The president is a history buff, so he picked it up and he's reading it. He is an avid reader."

Bush also took to the ranch Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground, by Robert D. Kaplan. The book describes the experiences of rank-and-file soldiers who carry out America's foreign policy objectives.

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