It is hoped (nice start) that medical reports claiming President Bush's apparent collapse and nausea at a state dinner in Tokyo today are a result of influenza prove to be accurate. Presidential spokesmen said Bush was resting comfortably after the frightening scene at the Japanese prime minister's residence. They said the president probably would cancel a breakfast meeting but would resume his planned itinerary.
Bush's illness, however, does focus attention on the tremendous pressures faced by a United States president, particularly when on an exhaustive foreign tour such as the current Bush trip. Such pressures often can cause any number of serious physical and mental problems, and Bush's close advisers may use the Tokyo incident as a means of getting the president to slow down.
Reporters accompanying the president said they, too, were near exhaustion from the frantic pace of the current trip. Some said the "flu bug" also had hit members of the press corps.
A president always is on the spot. Most every statement a president makes is analyzed, and on an important trip such as his current Pacific Rim tour, a careless statement, even his facial expressions, can trigger all kinds of reactions good and bad. The pressures are tremendous on all presidents, Republican or Democrat.
The Bush illness comes at an interesting time, just as the president is about to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress and launch his bid for re-election. Whether or not this "flu bug" incident will cause the president or Mrs. Bush to reconsider his desire to seek another four years in the White House remains to be seen.
Bush obviously is eager to be a good, effective president, and he embarked on his current tour knowing it would be tiring. But he thought it was important for the good of the U.S. and, undoubtedly, important to show Americans he is eager to do what he can to improve and strengthen the U.S. economy by increasing foreign sales for American products.
Again, it is hoped the initial medical reports are accurate and show that a president can be hit by the flu just as easily as anyone else. At the same time, perhaps this incident will cause some of the president's inner circle to take a close look at just how hard they should allow this president to push himself. The strain and pressures of the office are enormous, and it would seem reasonable that common sense be used in structuring his daily schedule.