If Bush imposes discipline on his staff and office, he does the same for his vacations. An August 2001 Washington Post survey found that Bush had spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots—or en route to them—including Camp David, his parents’ Kennebunkport, Maine, estate, or his Texas ranch. But those “vacations” have often been busy, even exhausting, affairs.
His daily security briefings continue, regardless of where he is. Teleconferences link aides in discussions on important issues. His exercise routine becomes more intense, with longer runs through open country. Like Reagan, he enjoys clearing brush at his ranch. But unlike Reagan, he has put his aides to work on the ranch as well.
In August 2001, Bush twisted the arms of some aides, in toasty 102-degree temperatures, to help him construct a nature trail through one of the canyons on his ranch. Bush also interrupted his 2002 summer vacation constantly for campaign swings to bolster Republican candidates and to help raise money.
Bush likes to play golf with his dad. The Bush family has a long golfing tradition. Number 43’s grandfather, Senator Prescott S. Bush, also served as president of the United States Golfing Association. Number 43 is not nearly as good a golfer as his grandfather, or even his father, but he does share one characteristic with 41: speed golf.
In August 2002 George W. Bush raced around the course in two hours, 14 minutes. It was not quite as fast as the record of one hour 24 minutes that Bush 41 once set, but Bush golf is a wild commotion of swinging, putting, and racing from hole to hole in golf carts.
Bush’s discipline is hard-wired into everything he does. After the admittedly wild days of his youth, he grabbed firm control of his life. He lives determined to keep it that way, from avoiding alcohol to aggressive exercising. That discipline carries over to his work life, and it became the backbone of his administration. He insists that aides follow the same pattern, with tough internal discipline and no external leaking—except when it serves the team’s larger strategy. In the end, Bush’s discipline and self-confidence are woven together into the very heart of his style.