Morning After

April 14th, 2004

I only caught the end of the press conference last night (after Jasmine called me, and told me I should be listening), which is why the anger and disgust which seems to be the across board response from people passed me by. The sentiments of the people I talked to, are mirrored in the blogs this morning: a president refusing to answer questions, refusing to admit mistakes, refusing to be honest with the public and give straight answers, and a president whose cheery, chipper answers about a vague, brighter, freer future started to sound a bit demented by the end of it.

What I don’t see anyone else talking about, something perhaps drowned in the whole smug performance, was my distinct impression of a man who has been promoted so far beyond his abilities it is dizzying. Reading the transcript the long confused pauses, ummms, and slurred words don’t come through. You have to count how many times he asks, “What was the question?”, and wince at his tongue tied responses. For me however the most telling question answer of the evening was

QUESTION:You’ve looked back before 9-11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9-11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have learned from it?

BUSH: I wish you’d have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it.

Does that mean all the stumbling, and bumbling answers where to questions he already had in writing? (Clearly he was going to plants with his “I have some must calls” line, as he pulled together a badly crumbling composure)

(update: Patrick also jumps on this. “this fantastically challenging question is ‘right out of every job interview in American history.’ Oh, that’s right, he’s probably never had to do one of those.”)

Bush’s Cave

It took me awhile to figure out what upset me so much , but once I did, it made perfect sense. For me, Bush’s performance crystallized my belief that this Administration doesn’t respect the American people. Tonight was a shell game…Tonight, George Bush didn’t even try. Instead, he spoke of his feelings, his intentions. He took questions on specific actions and pieces of evidence and turned them into denunciations of terrorists and paeans to freedom…Bush stood up there for an hour and ran for President the same way he did 4 years ago; as if he wasn’t the President. The advantage of being the challenger is you get to talk about visions and ideals and intent and desire. When you’re President, you have to defend a record.

Unable to answer the most basic questions?

QUESTION: Mr. President, who will we be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30th?

BUSH: We’ll find that out soon. That’s what Mr. Brahimi is doing. He’s figuring out the nature of the entity we’ll be handing sovereignty over.

That’s the whole answer, and it’s not good enough. June 30 is 77 days from today. Both of these statements cannot be true:

(1) We don’t know who we’re handing soverignity to on June 30.


(2) We have done a reasonable job of planning Iraq’s transition to a stable, democratic state.

Deeper Problems

I don’t normally like to play amateur psychologist, but after tonight’s press conference, I’m pretty sure our President has a personality disorder. He was asked more than once about mistakes he might have made and refused to admit any mistakes whatsoever. That’s a sign of a deeper problem, I think.

I hadn’t supposed any appreciable confidence in the President’s ability remained in me, but…

My heart sank when the President said, “I’m sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with [an] answer, but it hadn’t yet.” Has ever a President uttered more demoralizing words in the course of seeking to reassure Americans and the world? (“I am not a crook,” maybe.)

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