W Is Basically Voltaire (If You’re Peggy Noonan)
In all his recent interviews Mr. Bush has been modest, humorous, proud but unassuming, and essentially philosophical: History will decide. No finger-pointing or scoring points. If he feels rancor or resentment he didn’t show it. He didn’t attempt to manipulate. His sheer normality seemed like a relief, an echo of an older age.
[…] One thing Mr. Bush didn’t think he was was superior. He thought he was luckily born, quick but not deep, and he famously trusted his gut but also his heart. He always seemed moved and grateful to be in the White House. Someone who met with Mr. Obama during his first year in office, an old hand who’d worked with many presidents, came away worried and confounded. Mr. Obama, he said, was the only one who didn’t seem awed by his surroundings, or by the presidency itself.
Again, I could dine out on those paragraphs for weeks, but “quick but not deep” crosses the line. Voltaire’s, specifically, as it was his line to begin with: “I am like a mountain stream: I run fast and bright but not very deep.” Such a pithy diagnosis was gifted to the likes of Noonan because Voltaire had the self-awareness to make it. How was 43 on self awareness? Oh, that’s right.
Pierce with much, much more.