Monday, January 23, 2006

The World Series Of Softball

Did you think we'd ever get to the point in this country where today's AP headline---"Bush to Take Unscripted Audience Questions"---would be sadly appropriate? The full article is here. Sounds more like a glasnost-era dispatch from Pravda, doesn't it? Good Lord, how the public's minimum level of expectation for the conduct of elected officials has fallen during this administration.

As for the "unscripted" part, here are the first ten questions Bush took from the invited audience today at Kansas State University in the order in which they were asked (my bolds):

1. "Mr. President, we salute what you have done, your aggressive stance on terrorism. But more than that, as you know, Kansas is a beef state. The number one industry in the state of Kansas is beef production and beef processing. A strong beef industry indicates a strong Kansas, and it affects all of us. We sincerely appreciate your efforts in regaining our markets with Japan, your aggressive stance on trade. We support that tremendously. I wonder if you would just comment on what's happened recently."

2. "Thank you, Mr. President. One of the things that most of our Senate delegation has worked tirelessly on is the situation in the Sudan. Sudan was, of course, slated to be the chair of the African Union next year, which is -- they have tried, much like the United Nations, to do something. Does the United States have a larger role to play in the Sudan, and the entire sub-Saharan African region?"

3. "What is your position, or would you comment on a long-term strategy with respect to the geopolitical ambitions of China and Iran?"

4. "Hello, Mr. President. I am an American Iraqi Kurd. I would like to salute you and salute all the troops are freeing 27 million people. They are free." (Applause.) "Mr. President, I would like to share this thought with all our nation and everybody who is questioning what happened to the chemical weapons. Saddam burned 4,500 villagers. I lost more than 10 members of my family under the ground. We found their bones after, when we freed Iraq. Saddam, himself, and his people, his followers, they are chemical weapons. Please stop questioning the administration and their decision. It was the best decision anybody could take. Freeing 27 million people." (Applause.) "Mr. President, all I could tell you, I have two members of my family, they are in the Iraqi parliament. And both of them are women. My sister-in-law and my aunt, they are in the Iraqi parliament. And I would like you to share this happiness with me and with all the Iraqi people. Thank you, Mr. President." (Applause.)

5. "Us British, were a querulous people and we know that we're one of your greatest supporters in the world, and Tony Blair, who I have the greatest respect for, is my leader. When you say, "jump," he says, "how high?" At least, that's the perception of many of the British people. And when he agrees and does your bidding, then it weakens him on the home front at home. And many people enjoy this, but some of the more vocal ones will say, he's a yes-man. Have you discussed that with him, and do you have any --"

6. "I have a question less with politics and more with leadership, in general. You're in a situation where you're under a lot of flack, especially for your character. And that's something that, it seems to me, means a lot to you, as it does to many of us here. As a leader, as many of us are going to need to know here because we're going to be leaders in just a few years, what's the best way that you go about preparing yourself for attacks on your character, and how do you deal with others in those matters?"

7. "Mr. President, thank you for being here. I served under your father, he was my Commander-in-Chief in Desert Storm. And it was with great interest that I followed your campaign; my husband and I both are great fans of yours. I thank you for making the hard decisions, for making -- not listening to the critics and keeping your campaign promise. And I've been following the confirmation hearings of Judge Alito. And I certainly hope he's confirmed."

8. "Hi. First I'd like to say that when I was first able to cast my vote for President, it was my honor to vote for you -- Can you hear me? My question is about Social Security."

9. "Hi, I just want to get your comments about education. Recently, $12.7 billion was cut from education, and I was just wondering how that's supposed to help our futures?"

10. "Again, I just wanted to thank you for coming. Your speech was very good. I'm a big admirer of your wife. I know that you said that your role as a President was as a decision-maker, and I would like you to comment, please, on how your wife contributes to your decision-making process, and how you confide in her. Thank you."

I blog, you decide.


Anonymous Antonie said...

Thank you for not posting the answers to these questions.

Re question # 5: Tony Blair possibly qualifies to participate in the next Summer Olympics for the highjump competition.

The only pertinent question was # 9 re education.

Question # 10 is plain stupid. Laura Bush looks like a plaisant enough lady, but I don't think Mr. Bush would pay much attention even if she tried to influence him.

1/23/2006 8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't we become pitiful?
"Dr." Rice stated today that the time for talking with Iran has "run out". Now, where have I heard that before?? And, it's another election year ... anyone?

1/23/2006 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Marie Antoinette said...

My gawd, I've heard Conan O'Brien ask Cameron Diaz harder questions about her latest movie. And #7 isn't even a question at all!

1/23/2006 8:43 PM  
Anonymous howard said...

who let questioner number nine in? heads are going to roll....

1/23/2006 10:27 PM  
Anonymous grass root said...

So how much longer before we step in and stop all this?

1/23/2006 11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how much longer before we step in and stop all this?

About 2 years, 9 months, 2 weeks.

Give or take.

1/24/2006 3:38 AM  
Anonymous Eddie said...

# 2 could have been juicy... after all its Bush's CIA that's flying the architects of the "tribal cleansing" (or genocide as some of us call it) in the Darfur region of Sudan to Langley to discuss anti-terrorism...
gee pres. bush, how come you called it genocide last year but now your allies in Congress cut the African Union peacekeeper funding by 50 million dollars even as the region becomes even more destablized and the aid workers/aid organizations can't get in there and save people?

1/24/2006 5:08 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ignorance is Strength.

War is Peace.

Slavery is Freedom.

Four legs good, two legs bad.

And perhaps most importantly, Some animals are more equal than others.

When the others are done puking, please pass the bucket.

1/24/2006 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

#9 was brought forth by one Tiffany Cooper. Reportedly, she was whisked off by several large men in black suits soon after she posed the question and hasn't been seen since.

Gitmo anyone?

1/24/2006 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remarkably like Communist-era propaganda from the party that grew out of the culture of real town meetings. I wonder how this tilt toward authoritarianism came to pass, especially in what used to be the heart of progressive politics.

1/24/2006 10:48 AM  
Blogger TravisG said...

Bush has appeared loose and confident during the unscripted appearances, and at a Missouri event he handed the microphone to one surprised man in the audience, who answered questions for an hour while the president loafed offstage, munching an apple.

1/24/2006 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First it was in Kansas.
Need we say more.

Second, unscripted from a screened audience, or third, just a scared audience.

We know from past experiences, that unrehearsed, unscreened, doesn't necessarily mean that... they are too good at lying, PR, and the propaganda game, and we have over 5 years to examine the trend.

1/24/2006 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They didn't say the audience wasn't handpicked did they?

1/24/2006 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone read Bush's speech? I think he wrote it himself!

GWB on decisions:

"But, secondly, if I had to give you a job description, it would be a decision-maker."

"I make a lot of decisions."

"I make some that you see that obviously affect people's lives, not only here, but around the world."

"I make a lot of small ones you never see, but have got consequence."

"Decision-maker is the job description."

"First of all, when you make decisions, you've got to stand on principle."

"If you're going to make decisions, you've got to know what you believe."

"In order to make good decisions, you've got to rely upon the judgment of people you trust."

"So I called, I delegated -- that's one of the things you do in decision-making."

"Part of being a decision-maker, though, is you've got to help -- you've got to think strategically."

"You can't lead the nation, you can't make good decisions unless you're optimistic about the future."

"Sometimes decisions come to your desk unexpectedly."

"And so the decision I made right off the bat is we will find them, and we will hunt them down, and we will bring them to justice before they hurt America again."

"A lot of the decisions I make, and decisions future Presidents make, will be based upon the capacity of our intelligence services to find the enemy and to understand the intentions of the enemy and to share information with our allies."

"In order to make the right decision about how to win this war, it's important to understand the nature of the enemy and to take the enemy's word seriously and to understand their lethality and not let the kind of lull in the action lull us to sleep."

"And so when I said to the Taliban, get rid of al Qaeda, and they didn't, I made the difficult decision to commit our troops, to uphold the doctrine that if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist."

"A lot of people, I understand, disagreed with that decision, and that's what democracy is all about, that's what we believe in."

"It's very important for those who didn't agree with the decision, though, to understand the consequences of success in Iraq."

"I'm going to be listening to the people that know what they're talking about, and that's the commanders on the ground in Iraq. (Applause.) They'll make the decisions."

"And so part of my decision-making process is to understand the strength of the enemy -- the only strength they have -- and continue to remind the people that is their only strength, and the only way we can lose is if we lose our nerve and our will."

"Part of my decision-making process is my firm belief in the natural rights of men and women; my belief that deep in everybody's soul is the desire to live free."

"First, I made the decision to do the following things [wiretapping] because there's an enemy that still wants to harm the American people."

"It's such an honor to be the President of the great country that we are during such historic times, and I want to thank you for giving me a chance to describe to you some of the decision-making processes I've used to do my duty to defend the American people. God bless."

My particular favorite in the speech is when Bush describes freedom of speech as an American "custom":

"There's a custom in our country for people to express themselves, and it's good."

On Saddam:

"There's a reason why he was declared a state sponsor of terror -- because he was sponsoring terror."

Those rejectionists were back, too:

"Let me talk about the enemy real quick in Iraq. There are what we call "rejectionists." These are Sunnis that kind of like the fact that they -- even though a minority inside the country -- had the upper hand for a long period of time with Saddam."

Heaven help us - three more years of this nonsense!

1/24/2006 3:55 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...


I haven't seen these "unscripted" questions in a succinct post like this before. Christ, is this depressing.

1/24/2006 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you guys read that the White House declined to turn over Katrina papers citing confidentiality of executive branch.

Kind of scary; and destroys trust; Katrina was a wakeup call to show us how unprepared we still are for any type of disaster, and yet the White House is blocking the investigation... again!

Perhaps that should have been a question.

1/25/2006 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

A question!

Yeah, that "question" would go something along these lines:

"Mr. President, you told Mike Brown that he was doing a great job during the response to Katrina. And he did. But let me just tell you, Mr. President, that I think you're doing a great job, and so does everyone else I know. God bless you & God bless America."

To which George would tell everyone about the tough decisions he had to make, blah, blah, blah.

And then the audience would bleat Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad, and the next tough questioner would step to the podium.

1/25/2006 12:31 PM  
Anonymous jay said...

2. "[...] Does the United States have a larger role to play in the Sudan, and the entire sub-Saharan African region?"

This week's Village Voice has an article on the hunt for the 'bin Laden of the Sahara', and the involvement of U.S. troops:

"Pursuing Terrorists in the Great Desert
The U.S. Military's $500 Million Gamble to Prevent the Next Afghanistan"

Good post, thanks again, TCR.

1/25/2006 3:09 PM  
Blogger Walter E. Wallis said...

Perhaps when reporters stop making statements and pushing gotchas and revert to asking questions in pursuit of information, we can then criticize the president when we don't like his answers.

1/27/2006 12:37 AM  
Anonymous J Thomas said...

WEWallis, in the meantime we can criticise the president since we don't like his non-answers.

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