Illness or International Incident? —
6:48 p.m. ET Friday
President Bush woke up in Heiligendamm, Germany, Friday a bit under the weather.
It happens to all of us. But when it happens to the President it's international news — especially when he's attending an international summit.
Mr. Bush was scheduled to meet with France's newly minted president, Nicolas Sarkozy, first thing Friday morning at the summit. The U.S. press pool was in a holding room when it became clear that something unusual was going on.
Typically after such a meeting between two leaders, the media are brought into the room. There are pictures, brief statements about how well it all went from the participants, who maybe (but not always) take a question or two.This time, the meeting ended with Sarkozy coming out alone and talking briefly to the French press only.
Was something amiss in U.S.-Franco relations?
It turns out the president was battling some kind of stomach ailment and wasn't up for posing for pictures and smiling at reporters. White House adviser Dan Bartlett met with reporters and explained that the illness didn't seem serious. It was either a flu bug, or perhaps something the president ate, he said.
Ahhh, but this is an international summit hosted by a close ally of the U.S., and even a statement as innocuous as Bartlett's can cause trouble. Was he suggesting that the food served by summit host and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was tainted? Had the president eaten a bad mussel, or a piece of problematic meat?
Hours passed, and the president rested for the remainder of the morning before resuming his schedule.
But in the noon hour, when Bartlett talked to reporters again, he'd gotten his story straight. There'd be no international incident here.
"The suspicion is that it was some sort of bug," Bartlett said, "probably more viral in nature, and highly unlikely to be anything related to food or anything he ate. [We] just think it's something that may be running through the system." Bartlett went on to say that the president probably picked it up from Mrs. Bush, who didn't feel very well herself a couple of days ago.
So that's the story on the final day out of the G-8 Summit in Heiligendamm: The president got sick. And no, he's not blaming the food.
A footnote: At one point, Bartlett noted the Mr. Bush didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps. He was referring to an incident in 1992, when President George H.W. Bush got sick at a state dinner in Japan.In the middle of the meal, the elder Bush fainted, slumped over and vomited into the lap of the Japanese prime minister, who was seated next to him.
If you've got the stomach for it check out the video on YouTube.
— Don Gonyea