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George W. Bush: The Marathon President
September 1, 2002

The President of the United States has a standing heart beat of 44 pulses per minute -- that of a marathon runner. He has a remarkable 14.5 percent body fat, slightly less than most elite runners. He's in superb physical shape, and probably the most physically fit president in recent memory. The Commander-in-Chief runs six days a week and when he doesn't, he uses an elliptical trainer, lifts weights and stretches. A treadmill is always in his room when he travels, and he has one on Air Force One, which he used for 90 minutes on a flight to Europe in May. And, yes, the President has run marathon races.

This should assure the American people. His war-footing physical condition and regiment is a model for all Americans. In the next several years, the country won't be running sprints, nor token 5K races, but a very long pressing economic and military marathon.

"It's interesting that my times have become faster right after the war began," Bush told Runners World magazine. "I guess that's part of the stress relief I get from it. For me, the psychological benefit is enormous.."

President Bush's physical regiment and condition should also be inspiring to the troops under his command. His physical condition is equal to or greater than every member of our armed forces. Marathon racing is more than just intense conditioning and preparation. Psychological conditioning is just important. Each phase of marathon demands direct mental preparation: Pacing, reserving energy, smoothly passing the half way point, and the infamous "wall," reached in the final several miles. Patience is the prime virtue of a marathon runner. Patience and the qualities earned from long distance running gives the President and the country a significant edge over our adversaries.

The President's counterparts in the war against terrorism, on the other hand, are in very sad physical shape. More about that later. His program contrasts with his predecessor.

Bill Clinton's physical regiment, if it could be called that, was thoroughly symbolic --- and a media event. That's why late night comics focused more on Clinton's late night fast food binges. Clinton's eating habits probably caused him to experience frequent hypoglycemia -- the dramatic rise and fall of his blood sugar. Could this explain his erratic behavior? Clinton's spotty physical conditioning wouldn't do in contemporary war times. While we're at it, has anyone every seen Hillary Clinton in a high aerobic state? Sure, she experienced rapid heart beat during her husband's scandals. But, such elevated pulse beat without physical exertion is actually dangerous to the heart. If Hillary Clinton ever starts a six-day a week physical program like the President, conservatives should then begin to worry.

Now turning to the Presidents counterparts. Let's review their physical programs. Yassir Arafat is clearly a physical mess, from his ragged complexion (the result of toxin releases) to his emotional breakdowns. Arafat doesn't have much chance of doing three miles a day running like the President does. He's usually confined to his bunker by a dozen Israeli tanks. His main aerobic exercise is finger pointing at the media, while he rants about Israel. Estimated calories burned: 12.

Then there's Saddam Hussein. He does outpace Arafat. Saddam is often seen waving an AK-47 from his palace balcony. And sometimes he fires his side pistol in the air in front of large crowds, dragged or intimidated to stand and cheer below his balcony. Saddam wouldn't dare jog around the city's bazaars. He knows he'd be spotted by American spy satellites. He is overweight, has bad heart, and is probably a manic-depressive. Saddam would benefit from a solid aerobic program - it helps to calm maniacs, and often relieves depression. The estimated calories burned from his balcony gun-waving: 50.

Now we turn to Bin Laden. He's in the better physical condition than Yassir or Saddam, not withstanding his degenerative kidney. We don't know a great deal about his current physical training program, as of late. But it's safe to say, he burns calories, from his constant movement especially in and around the mountainous eastern Pakistan-Afghanistan border. But the constant paranoia causes dangerous levels of stress. Nothing substitutes for good aerobic exercise, and Osama is probably learning that the hard way. His last video proved that.

So, America is fortunate that it has a marathon president, who has the kind of clear mind and healthy body that only steady aerobic exercise brings. His relaxed stature is not feigned. It's hard earned, six days a week in strenuous physical exercise. The pheromones flow through his body. Critical decisions lay ahead. We have a President who will make difficult decisions with a clear mind; and adversaries burdened by paranoia, stress and weak bodies. Thus America's strength begins with a President with a strong body and clear mind. Isn't that how it should be in the body politic?


Award-winning TV producer, talk show host, and Republican leader Arthur Bruzzone has written over 150 political articles for national and regional media, and has commented on political issues for American and European television and radio networks.  His articles and columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Campaign & Elections Magazine, among other publications.

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