WASHINGTON I spent a long time looking at W.s sprezzatura in the shower, the play of light and shadow on his muscular back, and his face winsomely reflected in the shaving mirror.
I gazed at the former presidents legs and toes in the bathtub, overcome with relief that W. was now under the influence of Lucian Freud rather than Dick Cheney.
Images of W.s tasteful nude self-portraits went viral after being published on the Smoking Gun website on Thursday; they were stolen from his sister Doros email account by a hacker called Guccifer, who is now being investigated by the Secret Service for pillaging three years of Bush family email.
Congress and the news media are engaged in a febrile debate about the way America has used torture and drones, trying to figure out if the war on terror launched by W. got out of control and warped our sense of right and wrong. In the midst of this cacophony on morality, W. himself seems to have escaped to a simpler, more solipsistic landscape, making illustrations of his illustrious torso.
We are not talking Bonnard-level nude bath paintings. But, like W.s charming oil portrait of Barney, signed 43, which he released himself when his dog died recently, the pictures were surprisingly interesting and humanizing.
The man can handle a brush. And we thought he could only clear brush. The president who came across as a paint-by-numbers executive in public life can actually paint in private life.
Its weird because W.s presidency was not a reality-based undertaking; it did not look carefully at the world. And yet his paintings reflect meticulous optical observation.
The Smoking Gun reported that Guccifer infiltrated the email of Doro Bush and several family friends, collecting cellphone numbers, security codes, photos including of the first President Bush in the hospital.
It was a week for worrying about the dark side of our cool, fast, exciting, heedless new technologies.
We are so dizzy and intoxicated by our new toys from iPhones to drones that we are hopelessly addicted to them before we fully understand the downsides.
The instant gratification they offer makes us shortsighted in an unprecedented way. Hackers could shut down the way we live, and if they hacked into drones or nuclear codes, determine the way we die. If you think it through, which most of us avoid, the prospect of Techmaggedon is terrifying.
On Thursday, at John Brennans confirmation hearing to be CIA director, some senators took a stab at thinking it through on the smart, sleek, robotic machine that dominates our political debate. (Drones, not Obama.)
Those who battled Cheneys nefarious efforts to obliterate constitutional checks and balances and practice pre-emption cant look the other way when a Democratic president is caught up in the narcotic allure of drones and pre-emption. You sell a bit of the democratic soul when you start zapping people with no due process.
The Chinese, who have already broken into the White House computer network, have now pilfered, maybe spear-phished, oceans of emails from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
With the Chinese stockpiling our vile, vexed, vulgar, vivacious and vinous emails, they can trounce us easily. They can simply threaten to release a batch of our e-bombs about our bosses, spouses, dates, friends and crushes. Well all lose our jobs, but everyone else will, too, so we can just reboot and change places.
Just as Obama knows in his heart that, while seductive, drones need limits, so we know that, while seductive, emails need limits because sooner or later, the Chinese or some bitter hacker in his basement or some 10-year-old kid is going to make all our titillating emails public.
The rule of thumb in Washington used to be: Dont do anything that you wouldnt want to see printed on the front page of The New York Times. The new rule is: Dont send an email you wouldnt want to see printed on the front page of The New York Times. (Especially if you work here.)
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less