As official Washington heads into its summer vacation season, President Bush is portrayed by White House insiders as eager for a brief break at his Texas ranch in mid-August but ready for the looming political battles of the fall.
"He's as fully engaged as I've seen him," a senior administration official told U.S. News. "He's the one with all the energy that keeps us jacked up."
Bush, who recently turned 61, doesn't let the endless criticism of his conduct of the Iraq war and his other policies get him down.
"He reads the papers," the official said. "He knows what's going on. But he really enjoys being president. He knows what a great privilege it is."
Bush tells friends that he is confident the mid-September official report on Iraq will help him persuade a skeptical Congress and the public that the war is still worth fighting and that progress is being made. Winning the war remains his top priority for the remaining 18 months of his presidency, aides say, and he will use all his powers to make his case.
--Kenneth T. Walsh