So, it’s not everyday that The Smoking Gun obtains hacked e-mails from the former president of the United States that showcase his self-portraits.
While I don’t necessarily condone hacking — some of the e-mails detail incredibly sensitive information about the medical condition of former U.S. president George H.W. Bush and other family details, and it seems especially cruel to publish those — they did contain a couple of images I found totally fascinating. It’s also astounding (or maybe not so much, two months after a Gmail account featured prominently ending the career of former CIA director David Petraeus), that a hacker could access so much from a former U.S. president.
Former U.S. president George W. Bush has taken up painting in the years since leaving the White House, and that’s fine (so did former U.S. president and supreme commander of the Allied Forces in World War II, Dwight Eisenhower).
But these paintings are bizarre — self-portraits of the former president in the tub and in the shower that he allegedly thereupon sent to his sister.
It’s a Freudian’s dream — is Bush washing away the sins of his foreign policy decisions on Guantánamo, Iraq and Afghanistan? The running water symbolizing 43’s own private waterboarding?
There’s obviously a limit to what we can learn from the amateur paintings of a former president.
But in a world where leaders from Russian president Vladimir Putin to former UK prime minister Tony Blair bare all in photos and candid memoirs, these self-portraits similarly remind us that world leaders are, after all, human like the rest of us — and it underscores that their decisions while in power are equally influenced by all-too-human convictions, human passions and human errors.
Here’s the second image, of the former ‘leader of the free world’ examining his toes in the tub: