Bush Cries Alone

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, May 15, 2008; 1:56 PM

Could it be that despite the outward signs of confidence, all the criticism being heaped upon President Bush is getting to him?

It's sheer speculation, of course, but how do you explain why the president, welcomed to Israel with adulation, started to cry while being praised by a fellow world leader who expressed seemingly sincere admiration?

Bush has cried many times during his presidency -- when he's met with the families of dead soldiers, after 9/11, at disaster scenes. But this was different. In this case, it seems his tears were for himself.

Reuters has the video of what it describes as Bush's "emotional moment" after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised him for his leadership in the fight against extremists.

"He is a great leader, a great friend, a source of inspiration and we are very proud that we can celebrate the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel with you and your wife here in our eternal capital, Jerusalem," Olmert said.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Ethan Brommer write in the New York Times that "Mr. Bush's eyes welled up with tears. He reached for the hand of his wife, Laura, as he wiped his cheek."

The Coverage

Olmert's words came at what Stolberg and Brommer describe as "an emotional Academy Awards-style celebration of the country's 60th birthday here Wednesday night. . . .

"The gala, a highly produced affair, featured choral and dance performances as well as speeches from Mr. Bush, Mr. Peres and Mr. Olmert. It was billed as a celebration of '60 years of friendship.' But at times it seemed a celebration of Mr. Bush, who seemed overcome with emotion as Mr. Olmert lavished him with praise.

"'You are an unusual person,' Mr. Olmert told Mr. Bush. 'You are an unusual leader. You are an unusual friend of the people of Israel.'"

Michael Abramowitz writes in The Washington Post: "At home, Bush may be the least popular president since Harry Truman, but here in Israel he was greeted with a raucous standing ovation when he entered the auditorium and lavish praise from Israel's leaders.

"Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino tycoon and a big financier of Republican and Jewish causes, preceded Bush to the stage and hailed him as 'the most supportive' president Israel has ever known. The Israeli authorities took advantage of Adelson's presence to question him in a bribery investigation that is focusing on Olmert and could topple the government, a big subject of speculation on the sidelines of the conference. . . .

"Bush kept the Truman analogy going in his own remarks, since he seems to expect his decisions on Iraq and other issues will be vindicated by history, in the fashion of the 33rd president of the United States."

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