At about 11:30 a.m. last Wednesday, a gunman showed up at the White House looking for our new leader, presumably wanting to tell W. a thing or two.

Paul Wong
Mike Spahn<br><br>Pray for Rain

The Secret Service did its job, taking the gunman out, without any injuries to bystanders or the president.

Such actions, especially in a nation that we generally consider to be safe, are always horrible, deplorable and jarring. Throw partisanship and Florida out the window nobody wants the president hurt (at least I hope not).

Dealing with people like Robert W. Pickett, the former IRS employee who showed up at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with a gun, is a central issue in government today people with mental illness aren”t being treated correctly, and getting a gun is simply too easy.

But as I read the reports that trickled in over the wire in the early afternoon last week, something caught my eye. First, it was just that the president was never in danger. But then, I read this:

“President Bush was reported safe in his residence, exercising, at the time. Vice President Dick Cheney was working in his office.”

Why was the President of the United States, in only his first month in office, taking an afternoon siesta and a jaunt on the treadmill?

Now, I”m no president, but I”ve watched a fair amount of “The West Wing” and I know that exercising mid-morning on a weekday isn”t the best way to improve health care for impoverished children, nor deal with gun safety and mental illness.

Jed Bartlett, TV”s president, once thought of taking a break to go have a romp with his wife after quite a dry spell, but even that was foiled by some worldly matter. Does W. really have the time for these breaks? Again, I”m no president, but it seems there are some pressing issues he”s not addressing.

Again, back to Bartlett. He”s constantly whirring between situation room meetings, talks with congressional leaders and heads of state, and you rarely see him pumping iron on a weekday. And sure, presidents have been known to take a break for 18 holes or an occasional jog, but this seems excessive.

Where was G.W. early in the day on Election Day when he received word things weren”t going well for him? Working out. Where did we see him over and over when he wasn”t at his posh Crawford ranch, that is during the Florida debacle? Working out.

And where is he nearly moments into his term, as a new leader is elected in Israel, campaign finance reform sits tabled for another month, the economy dips and gunmen are charging the White House?

You guessed it. Working out.

Who are this guy”s main advisers the people everyone said would truly lead this administration? We”ve seen Powell, Rumsfeld and Card all getting work done. But W. he must be turning to Bally, GNC and Gold of Gold”s Gym to help out on the main crisis of the day.

I”m not saying don”t take a break or don”t work out. But the nation”s problems don”t take a break so you can check your heart rate.

But then it hit me: We really did elect Dick Cheney to run this country, and W. to be the face of the nation. And I got scared.

Cheney was working in his office. Doing the work of the people, presumably.

The work some people claim we elected George Bush to do.

Only four more years I just keep repeating that to myself when I awake in a cold sweat at night.

Mike Spahn”s column runs every other Monday. Give him feedback at www.michigandaily.com/forum/ or via e-mail at mspahn@umich.edu.

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