President Bush takes getting used to. Following a gregarious and seemingly omnipresent Bill Clinton, George W. Bush presents himself publicly only when he thinks it's necessary. He limits his exposure as one might horde food or energy, but for different reasons. Bush seems to view his office as something to be used for the good of others, not self-aggrandizement.
Some eyebrows were raised when the president declined to attend ceremonies for the returning ‘‘detainees'' held in China for 11 days. Bush believed it would draw attention away from those being honored and, besides, he wanted to observe Easter weekend with his family.
For too long we've asked our presidents to do things the Founders never intended for them to do. Then, when a president fails to live up to our impossibly high expectations, we turn on him and elect someone else of whom we make similar demands.
James Madison noted the Constitution was conceived so that ‘‘the powers delegated … to the federal government are few and defined.'' (Federalist Paper 45) He prophesied in the same document that, ‘‘the number of individuals employed under the Constitution of the United States will be much smaller than the number employed under the particular States.'' That was true in George Washington's time when 350 civilian government employees served a population of 3 million. The federal government is now the nation's largest employer, with 2.7 million workers (not including the postal service), according to 1999 Labor Department figures.