Shifting gears entirely, perhaps you’ve wondered, “What’s on our president’s nightstand (to read, that is)?” Helpfully, Newsweek offers a short piece this week titled, “Bush: Summer Reading.” Reports Richard Wolffe: “Judging by the books on his summer-reading list, Bush is thinking about nuclear bombs, civil war and baseball. The president has just finished Clemente, by David Maraniss, the story of the gifted right-fielder who rose from a poor Puerto Rican family to become a Pittsburgh Pirates star, before dying in a plane crash while delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims … The president has also read American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, a biography of Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atom bomb … Now Bush is reading another bio of his favorite president. Lincoln, by Richard Carwardine … According to Publishers Weekly, the book’s best insight is into Lincoln’s religious views and his relationship with evangelicals.”


Next, we move on from “What’s he reading” to “What’s he drinking and sucking on?” While J-Lo requires fig-scented Diptyqe candles and “honey peanut Balance bars” in all of her dressing rooms, President Bush, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “Washington Whispers,” likes to have “a box of Altoids” and “warm water … room temperature … preferably bottled” at his assorted appearances and speaking engagements. According to “an insider,” the president “doesn’t like [water] cold. It’s kind of weird.” (Not to J-Lo, who also requests “room temperature Evian.”)


Elsewhere in the magazine — cough, cough, typical summer cover story — U.S. News explores “Mysteries of History” such as, “Who got to the true North Pole first: Robert Peary or Frederick Cook?” and “How can George Washington be the first president if he didn’t assume office until 13 years after the Declaration of Independence?”


Finally, in the current Atlantic, James Fallows hands (subscription required) the Bush administration a “New Strategy for the Fight Against Terror: We Win.” After talking to “some sixty experts [including military and intelligence folks, academics and think tankers of assorted nationalities] about the current state of the conflict that bin Laden thinks of as the ‘world jihad’ — and that the U.S. government has called both the ‘global war on terror’ and the ‘long war’”… Fallows reports that he found an “implicit optimism about the United States’ situation. .. not on Iraq but on the fight against al-Qaeda and the numerous imitators it has spawned.” In sum: “al Qaeda’s mistakes and our successes have sharply reduced the terrorist network’s ability to harm the United States. Its threat now rests less on what it can do itself than on what it can trick, tempt or goad us into doing. …” And so “the time has come to declare the war on terror over; so that an even more effective military and diplomatic campaign can begin.”


Not only does Fallows outline for the Bush administration a “new strategy,” he also drafts the speech to unveil said strategy. Channeling the New York Times’ Tom Friedman, Fallows concludes with a hypothetical “My fellow Americans” presidential address, noting that “we are ready for a message … of realism, of courage, and of optimism despite life’s difficulties.”

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.