WASHINGTON - Under that famously self-confident exterior is a president who weeps � a lot.
President Bush told the author of a new book on his presidency that "I try not to wear my worries on my sleeve" or show anything less than steadfastness in public, especially in a time of war.
"I fully understand that the enemy watches me, the Iraqis are watching me, the troops watch me, and the people watch me," he said. Yet, he said, "I do tears."
"I've got God's shoulder to cry on. And I cry a lot. I do a lot of crying in this job. I'll bet I've shed more tears than you can count, as president. I'll shed some tomorrow."
Bush granted journalist Robert Draper several extended interviews in late 2006 and early 2007, as well as unusual access to his aides, for the book "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush," which went on sale Tuesday.
Draper's account of the bulk of Bush's presidency sheds light on a loyal and secretive inner circle that, at least privately, was not always on the same page. Draper tells of an April 2006 dinner at which Bush asked aides for a show of hands on whether his divisive defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, should be fired.
The vote: 7-4 to get rid of him, with Bush siding with those who wanted him kept on for the time being. Rumsfeld was replaced after the elections that fall switched control of the House and Senate to Democrats.
White House aides who wanted Rumsfeld out were privately dismayed when retired generals called publicly for his ouster, fearing that would steel Bush's resolve to keep his defense chief, the book says.
Bush, without addressing that meeting, suggested to the author that the ex-generals did get under his skin.
"My reaction was, 'No military guy is gonna tell a civilian how to react,'" he said.
Also in the book, Bush:
"I wouldn't be president if I kept drinking. You get sloppy, can't make decisions, it clouds your reason, absolutely. I still remember the feeling of a hangover, even though I haven't had a drink in twenty years." He said he ate chocolate in the evenings after he swore off booze, because his body missed the sugar.
Draper, a national correspondent for GQ magazine, is a former editor at Texas Monthly, where he profiled Bush when he was Texas governor.