The truth is that what I find compelling about Bush are his obviously ordinary human qualities. He strikes me as a very REAL person--not a slick "persona" created by an ad agency; or a "celebrity" onto whom we project our own fantasies.
Of course, no politician/celebrity these days can exist without cultivating that carefully crafted persona, but nevertheless, all my instincts about people tell me that Bush is real; that he is honest; and that he always tries to do what he thinks is right.
This post at The Corner about sums it up:
[...]recall the presidents this country has known (and will know) who were obsessed with their own popularity. Think of the many times Bill Clinton allowed polling data and political advisers to shape military strategy. Imagine how horrifying it would be right now to have a John Kerry or Al Gore as president — no clear statements of policy, military decisions transparently shaped by "how it's going to look", a White House that smells to high heaven of vacillation, weakness, and even corruption. Imagine all of this for a second — and then consider the President's response:THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Look, Presidents care about whether people support their policies. I don't mean to say, I don't care. Of course, I care.... On the other hand, Ken, I don't think you've ever heard me say — and you've now been covering me for quite a while, 12 years — I don't think I've — 12 years? Yes. I don't think you've ever heard me say, gosh, I'd better change positions because the polls say this or that. I've been here long enough to understand you cannot make good decisions if you're trying to chase a poll. And so the second part of your question is, look, I'm going to do what I think is right, and if people don't like me for it, that's just the way it is.
Bush has virtually never in his political career made a decision that he didn't think was the right thing to do and the right way to do it. Conservatives who are piling on the anti-Bush bandwagon should consider that this trait—which makes the Bush family historically great—is a historical rarity to be treasured....
But it was not so long ago that Americans could only wish for a president who was obviously trustworthy, upstanding, and principled. And the day is not far off when we will think ourselves lucky to have seen this President defend the honor and integrity of his office—and the American people—for eight years. The times are difficult, and nobody could have gotten through the last five years without making mistakes. But in that station to which God called him, George W. Bush has been himself honestly, and thank God for that.
Yes, thank God that we have a president that will not chase the polls; nor does he desire popularity above all else. Bush is a rarity in politics, and one that I sincerely treasure for all his faults.
UPDATE: The Anchoress calls the New Yorker "petty" for sneering at Bush's summer reading. Personally, I think "a bunch of effete intellectual snobs" comes closer to the mark, but I'm a lot less kind than she is.