“God, what a thrill to cheer for you!” Bush told Phelps afterward.
Phelps told reporters he looked up at Bush just moments after winning, and the president nodded.
“That was a pretty cool feeling,” he said.
Check out this sequence of frames from the Michael Phelps world record in the 400-meter individual medley Saturday evening. As Phelps acknowledges the win, the camera finds Bush rooting him on, the signature flag included.
Fair enough up to this point. But then, fast forward to the medal ceremony and the national anthem and the commentator blubbering about whether Phelps was going to cry. Will he? Will he? The camera pans in closer and closer, then cuts to Mom with her hand over her heart, then back to Phelps again not quite emoting, but feeling it. Then bingo, as if on cue, we get Dubya framed between adoring daughter and Bush’s logo, the fluttering flag, insulated — as we’ve seen so often — in and by the patriotic euphoria (1, 2). And the question is, how does he always seems to know exactly where the camera is?
And talk about the merger of country, leader and team, not only did Bush participate in the team USA huddle the next day (pic) but check out the drawing the NBC announcer unfurled just before the U.S.-China basketball game Sunday, showing Hu and Bush playing one-on-one.
What happened to Mr. 25%? To questions about the meager Gitmo conviction? To the Iraqi Parliament bailing on elections? To being on the job with the Russian war breaking out? Feels like 2002 all over again, NBC doing its best to fold Bush in an envelope of patriotism.
quote/video from: USA Beats China In Olympic Opener; Bush Joins US Basketball Huddle (AP)
The full White House Olympic day 1 photo gallery (whitehouse.gov)
(screen grabs: NBC)