George Bush has finally given a response to the age-old question: can the president really dance?

After a 30-second boogie on the White House lawn, the answer is: it depends what you mean by dancing.

A besuited Mr Bush was making an appearance for Malaria awareness day in the Rose Garden on Wednesday when the Kankouran West African dance company brought in for the occasion invited him to join in.

The leader of the free world gamely agreed and set about swaying his hips, moving his hands from one side to another, holding his palms above his head, and even commandeering the drums for a few moments.


It was a classic "white man in Africa" performance, complete with wild-man facial expressions, although it was delivered with a lot more gusto than might normally be expected from a contemporary statesman.

He still cannot quite compete with the late Boris Yeltsin, but the rambunctious Russian leader had the advantage, and the excuse, of having drunk prodigious amounts of alcohol. President Bush is a teetotaller, although one with a colourful pre-presidential past of fraternity parties, boozing and general carousing.


Coming hot on the heels of Karl Rove's stunning hip-hop jive at a recent Washington ball, it is increasingly evident that a devil-may-care attitude is descending on the White House in the twilight years of this presidency, even as the mire deepens in Iraq.

Any future documentary maker will be sorely tempted to splice the footage of Mr Bush and his top political counsellor making boisterous fools of themselves with images of the Iraq carnage, to make a point for posterity. In the president's case the juxtaposition will not be entirely fair.

He showed himself ready to dance in mock ways from the first moments of his presidency six years ago, when he danced a little improvised salsa with the Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin at his inaugural ball.

It just goes to show you can take the Texas boy out of the frat party, but ...