- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2006


After months of fretting about getting older, President Bush turned 60 yesterday.

“Let me just say this: It’s a lot younger than you think,” Mr. Bush said as he accepted birthday greetings from a Canadian reporter during a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

As Mr. Bush closed his press conference, another reporter in the audience, Raghubir Goyal, called out that it was his birthday, too. The president invited him to the podium for a picture. Mr. Bush asked whether anyone else was celebrating their birthday that day and invited them to come up. Two others — reporter Richard Benedetto and State Department employee Todd Mizis — joined the birthday celebration.

“Amazing, everybody’s birthday today,” Mr. Bush said.

The president celebrated his birthday with friends at a White House party on Independence Day, and there weren’t supposed to be any festivities yesterday. Still, the occasion was noted in a long day of meetings and public appearances, including the press conference with Mr. Harper.

Mr. Bush received birthday greetings from Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who talked with the president on the phone yesterday morning about North Korea’s missile tests.

In speech after speech in recent days, Mr. Bush has referred to himself as the “old president — getting older by the minute, by the way”; as one of “the gray-haired folks”; as “getting older”; and as flat-out “old.”

“For many boomers, turning 60 is a fairly significant shock,” said Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at Cornell University. “The generation that believed it would be young forever, clearly will not. … The boomers are having a hard time with the existential reality of life not being one open-ended opportunity after another.”

Dr. J. Edward Hill, the immediate past president of the American Medical Association and a family physician from Tupelo, Miss., has seen many patients display Mr. Bush’s chatty angst. But he said the president’s joshing around is one of the healthiest approaches.

“When you worry about something, you talk about it,” Dr. Hill said. “The stints of humor are critically important.”

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