- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 30, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
President Bush transferred presidential powers to Vice President Richard B. Cheney for more than two hours yesterday during a routine colon screening that ended in a clean bill of health.
It was only the second time in history that the Constitution's presidential disability clause was invoked. Mr. Bush was sedated during the 20-minute procedure.
"The president continues to be in outstanding health," said Air Force Col. Richard Tubb, the White House physician who led the examination. "No polyps were found, no abnormalities were found."
The procedure, a colonoscopy, was done at the well-equipped medical facility in Camp David, the presidential retreat in Western Maryland. Mr. Bush felt well enough afterward to play with his dogs and take a 4-mile walk with the first lady and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and his wife. He then went to the gym for a light workout.
Col. Tubb said two polyps were discovered during examinations in 1998 and 1999 while Mr. Bush was governor of Texas. That made Mr. Bush a prime candidate for regular examinations.
Yesterday's procedure began at 7:09 a.m. and ended at 7:29 a.m. Mr. Bush woke up two minutes later but did not resume his presidential office until 9:24 a.m., after Col. Tubb conducted an overall examination.
Col. Tubb said he recommended the additional time to make sure the sedative had no aftereffects.
White House counsel Alberto Gonzales said Mr. Bush wanted people to know that every precaution was taken.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we wanted to reassure everyone that the president was not making a hasty decision" to return to work, Mr. Gonzales told a briefing.
During the two hours while he was acting president, Mr. Cheney met with his staff and received an intelligence briefing at the White House.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Mr. Cheney carried out no official acts as acting president.
Col. Tubb said Mr. Bush does not have to repeat the procedure for five years. One of the reasons Mr. Bush underwent the procedure, Mr. Fleischer said, was to underscore its importance for people over 50 who are at risk. Mr. Bush turns 56 on July 6.
Mr. Bush said he was transferring power as a precaution in a time of terrorism. President Reagan was the first to invoke the Constitution's 25th Amendment since its adoption in 1967 as a means of dealing with presidential disability and succession.
Mr. Bush transferred and resumed his powers in letters to House and Senate leaders, as spelled out by the amendment.
A colonoscopy is considered the best way to examine the colon and to find and remove polyps before they become cancerous. Colon cancer kills more than 50,000 Americans annually and is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, behind lung cancer.
The procedure, performed regularly, is thought to reduce the risk of colon cancer by up to 90 percent. More than 2 million are performed annually in this country.
The procedure uses a flexible tube containing an optical scope equipped with a surgical cutter that enables the doctor to view the entire length of the colon and remove any polyps that may be found.
Col. Tubb said a sedative called propofol was administered to Mr. Bush through an intravenous line.
Section 3 of the 25th Amendment enacted in 1967, four years after President Kennedy's assassination was invoked on July 13, 1985, when Mr. Reagan had surgery for colon cancer.
Mr. Bush said that while the test was routine, the times were not.
"I'm the first president to have done so [transferred power] under this type of procedure and/or physical examination. I did so because we're at war," Mr. Bush said.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide