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The old ball game

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The most recent issue of Vanity Fair contains an article that puts forward a number of interesting theories about George W. Bush. In "The Accidental Candidate," journalist Gail Sheehy suggests that the Republican presidential candidate is dyslexic, suffers from ADD and is running only to pad his resume. Bush's real goal, Sheehy claims, is to one day be appointed baseball commissioner.

Sheehy supports these claims, in part, with quotes from friends of the Texas governor. One of these friends is Raleigh attorney Randall Roden, who grew up with Bush in Midland, Texas, and has known him since they were both 4-year-olds. Bush and Roden also attended Andover Academy in Massachusetts, graduating together in 1964.

"George is almost defiantly anti-intellectual, so it's not surprising that the press picks up on these things," Roden said in a phone interview. Roden never saw any evidence that Bush was dyslexic or suffered from an attention deficit disorder, but he was also not aware that Bush's younger brother Neil is dyslexic, as was revealed in the Vanity Fair article. "As far as I could tell, George was a good student in elementary school," he told Sheehy. That part of his interview never made it into the magazine, however.

"We were arguing, and she was really pushing hard to support her thesis, and the example that he doesn't spend a lot of time discussing nuanced things came up. So I mentioned that he always had the capacity to analyze figures, like baseball statistics," Roden said. In the magazine, the attorney is quoted as saying that Bush "learned batting averages, positions, how many home runs and errors. Baseball is a game of numbers. It impressed me."

In the context of the scathing Vanity Fair profile, Roden's innocuous comment appears as supporting evidence to Sheehy's claims. "Having someone you know personally be under such media scrutiny is peculiar," Roden says.

Ironically, Roden is a lifelong Democrat who, naturally, maintains mixed feelings about his childhood friend's pursuit of the presidency. Some of the claims in the Vanity Fair article, he says, are legitimate, such as the damning portrait of Texas' environmental problems.

What does Roden think his old friend's chances are come November? When pressed, he admits that he doesn't see how Bush can make up the ground he's lost.

"My hard-core Republican friends are having trouble recovering from the turn of events," he says. But, noting that it could be a strange electoral college year, he adds, "that's an accident waiting to happen."

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