I’m not sure I totally agree with Matt Yglesias when he calls Bob Costas’ interview with George Bush last night “enlightening and substantive.” Bush’s answers — that he spoke firmly with Putin, Medvedev, and the Chinese president — weren’t much more revealing than the sort of thing I’d expect to hear during a White House press conference. (“The President is absolutely opposed to the violence in Georgia and has already contacted Putin to say that he finds it unacceptable,” etc. etc.) And Costas, perhaps due to time, didn’t offer much in the way of follow up, instead taking Bush’s answers at face value and moving on to the next question. Ezra Klein is probably right that the most revealing thing about the interview was Bush’s invocation of his faith, discussion of which has been back-burnered in recent months. But that Bush’s faith drives his decision-making and priorities isn’t much of a revelation at this point, and I don’t think the interview told us much that’s new about exactly how it affects his actions.
I was impressed by the interview anyway, though, simply by the fact that neither Bush nor Costas came out worse for wear. I haven’t seen Bush look so comfortable in years, and Costas managed to balance the sports talk with the politics talk almost perfectly. Maybe it’s just that Bush is nearing the end of his term and, as such, is less distracted, but I wonder if the sports-milieu and didn’t help him tremendously. For one thing, it gave him the opportunity to be patriotic without having to fall back on support for the war, and for another, it gave him some guy-talk — the sort of casual conversation that Bush is supposed to be so comfortable with — to mix in with the heavier political issues. No matter what, it’s the first time in a while I’ve seen Bush at home in his own skin, and the first time in years I didn’t come away from watching an interview with him some combination of embarrassed or irritated. Perhaps he should finish out his term not from the White House, but from whatever stadium box seats will have him?