Urine samples from President George W. Bush, some of them almost five years old, have shown exceptionally high levels of testosterone, according to leaked reports.
Samples collected and preserved at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in the course of routine presidential check-ups, but not examined for testosterone until recent weeks, indicate that Bush had normal levels of the hormone from January through early September of 2001. However, the Sept. 14 sample — the first taken after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 — shows a sudden and sharp increase in testosterone concentration.
In the past five years, observers have puzzled over the astonishing turnaround that President Bush achieved at about that time. The first eight months of his presidency had been lackadaisical, marked by no significant initiatives or accomplishments, whereas he was widely admired for his decisiveness and forceful action in response to the attacks. “Testosterone injections,” said former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in commenting on the reports, “would go a long way in explaining his comeback at that time.”
Tests showed consistently elevated levels of the hormone in samples taken in 2002 through 2005 as well. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, while testily dismissing any suggestions that the President has received any testosterone supplements, pointed out that even if he had been doing so, Article One of the US Constitution does not explicitly disqualify a chief executive for hormonal doping.
However, if so-called Phase II tests find that the testosterone in the President’s urine was of synthetic origin, congressional Democrats are thought likely at least to seek a vote of censure against him, and order medical supervision and frequent testing to ensure that future doping does not occur.
The President appeared on the Fox News Channel’s Hannity and Colmes program Tuesday evening to defend himself, declaring, “I have naturally high testosterone in my body. I’m from Texas, you know!”
When co-host Alan Colmes, visibly cringing, noted that Bush was born in Connecticut, the President was quick with a rejoinder: “Pagans and liberals would like us all to believe that testosterone level is a matter of heredity, that you’re just born with what you have, that there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m here to tell you a man can decide which life’s road to take.”
Colmes, meekly, asked how the tests might have shown such an abrupt mid-September-2001 increase. Bush responded, “I’ve been thinking about that. It might have involved an unintentional miscommunication with my White House kitchen staff. When I got back to Washington on the evening of that fateful day [Sept. 11, 2001], I ordered up a banana daiquiri to help me unwind and try to sleep — very specifically stating that it should be non-alcoholic. But, you know, if somebody slipped up and added rum, well, I’ve heard that can raise the old testosterone…”
Some experts have said that testosterone injection might well have given Bush the boost he needed to lead the nation’s potent and decisive response to the attacks. But Dr. Robert S. Halfington, Director of Research at the Texas Endocrinology Institute, points out that it could also explain the President’s behavior in the years since 2001: “Long-term abuse of the hormone can lead to severe side effects, including aggressiveness, violent behavior, paranoia, pathological anxiety, hallucinations, and confusion.”
Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says history shows that past leaders have used personal testosterone supplements as a weapon, with some initial success. “But,” he adds, “those who did so — for example, Benito Mussolini of Italy and the Shah of Iran, just to mention two — eventually overreached, leading their nations into terrible predicaments.”
Results of the Phase II tests are expected next week. If the report gives firm evidence of doping, pressure will build for appointment of an independent commission to investigate the matter. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has been mentioned as possible chairperson.
STAN COX is a plant breeder and writer in Salina, Kansas. He can be reached at email@example.com.