Another installment in my continuing attempt to explain my sympathy and admiration for the President:

In my American history class, I sometimes ask my students to relate their favorite literary character. The most worrisome answer (and one that is increasingly more common): "I don't have one."

Having said that, the exercise generally provides one of my most enjoyable class days. There are some expected favorites: Harry Potter is very popular. When the Tolkien novels were current movies, I got a lot of Bilbo Bagginses. But there are also some classic figures that come up very often: the Count of Monte Cristo, Elizabeth Bennet, Holden Caulfield, and Gus McCrae to name a few.

Oftentimes it turns out that a favorite literary character is a seemingly ordinary person with whom we can identify--but who falls into a desperate situation that none of us would want to be in. The hero faces the crisis with extraordinary courage, exhibiting unexpected traits we hope that we might call forth in similarly dire straits.

This is essentially the story of George Bush. He is the archetypal everyman who finds himself in a horrific mess (the presidency in the post-9/11 era). He reacts with admirable courage and summons strength from the depths of his soul. To borrow a phrase from a great historian long deceased: he surpasses himself.

Of course, we don't know how the story ends. Right now we are in the third act and things are caving in on our hero. Can he turn the tide of misfortune and snatch victory from the forces of evil? Or will he prove the ultimate tragic figure--defeated and humiliated in the end by his outsized but flawed personality?

Only time will tell--but I cannot put this book down.