President Bush is basking in his job and enjoying the awesome prerogatives of the highest office in the land. He is a happy man.
After his first 100 days in office, Bush, acting almost bubbly at times, must wonder at the presidents who described the office as "splendid misery" and the White House as "the loneliest place in the world."Not since Lyndon Johnson, the all-time take-charge president, has the White House seen such frenetic, spontaneous activity. Bush is energetic to the point of being hyperactive. He shows up for work in the Oval Office shortly after 7 a.m. and exalts in his newly found power.
He is determined to get his exercise and to keep in shape. He supervised the installation of a new horseshoe pit outside his office and he has used the outdoor swimming pool more than any other president since it was built for Gerald Ford. His fitness program also includes jogging, tennis and fishing.
The 64-year-old Bush, who had his eyes on the presidency for years, is savoring every moment and transforming the museum-like White House into more of a real home that is open to family and friends.
Bush does not just talk about family and religious values; he tries to live them. He attends church regularly and often drops pretense when his family is around. After a state dinner honoring Jordan's King Hussein, he was seen sitting on the grand staircase holding a grandchild.
He and his wife, Barbara, whom he calls "Bar," rarely spend an evening alone. They have had fun exploring the nooks and cranies of the family quarters, acting as tour guides and disdaining the privacy of their inner sanctum that was so protected when Ronald and Nancy Reagan lived there.
Having lived in the shadow of other presidents for so long, Bush now wants to run his own show. Despite his more easygoing approach, he has his staff under control and so far the turf wars that plagued other administrations have not developed.
Having been the ultimate "team player," he also prizes loyalty. He has raised the profile of Vice President Dan Quayle after keeping him under wraps throughout the campaign, and is said to be committed to his vice president despite the beating Quayle took last year.
But Bush's style is not without negatives. He may be a man in a hurry, but critics say it is not clear where he wants to go.
His lack of a sure agenda has caused him to be accused of "hitting the ground crawling" and he and his aides have become defensive over charges the administration is drifting. They are quick to tick off their early accomplishments: bipartisan agreements on Central America and the budget and other initiatives the president says are proof he is not sitting on his hands.
While he has the most potent foreign policy and strategic military policy questions under review, Bush insists he will not be pressured or stampeded to meet deadlines set by others.
Although his speaking style has improved, Bush still manages at times to mangle the English language. His speeches rarely zero in on one issue, and, unlike Reagan, contain few memorable lines.
Favorite expressions and words include "stay tuned" and "thing" - as in "the vision thing."
He does not have a finely tuned sense of humor, but he is likeable - and popularity polls show that attribute has come across to the public.
Democrats are now welcome in the White House and Bush treats many like old friends, which some are. Rep. Jack Brooks, D-Texas, looked around at a recent ceremony and quipped that he had been at the Executive Mansion more in Bush's few weeks in office "than I have in eight years."