Saturday, April 17, 2004

Good old fashioned Bush-bashing

Let's go a bit off topic for a few minutes. Kevin Drum, in-house blogger at the Washington Monthly (and always an entertaining and educational read for all you political junkies out there) suggests that when life gets you down, there's nothing like a bit of good old sophomoric Bush-bashing to pick you up.

After a few days of reflection on Bush's recent press conference, I have to get a few things off of my chest. I actually watched the press conference the other night. Generally, I can't bear to watch him for more than five minutes at a time without feeling physically nauseous. I start chanting to myself, "How can this idiot be president? This must be a bad dream. A nightmare. Wake up, wake up, wake up...." (At which point my wife tells me to either shut up and listen or turn off the damn T.V.) But I figured maybe the press would have grown a backbone over the past few weeks, so there might be some fireworks worth watching.

The press didn't entirely disappoint (although if I was a White House press correspondent, I would have asked some harder questions and some actual FOLLOW-UPS when he didn't answer the original question. "Follow-ups," for those of you too young to remember when the press wasn't intimidated, are responses to non-answers or non-sensical answers.)

I will admit that I don't particularly like Bush (which probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me or who reads Confined Space) or think that he's ever been a particularly effective speaker. In other words, my expectations the other night were not very high. Nevertheless, I was shocked and appalled at his performance during the press conference. I thought it was absolutely frightening how he stumbled for words -- or more accurately, stumbled for thoughts -- when asked some basic questions that he must have rehearsed a million times with his staff, and how he kept falling back on the same "quiver of cliches and a few simple stock arguments,"as Josh Marshall described it, blathering on about freedom and those who hate freedom and how 9/11 made him sad, and on and on, anything not to actually respond to a question . (If you missed it, check here for a condensed version.) I was equally appalled at his blatant refusal to answer any question asked of him (and, again, disappointed that the press almost never followed up.)

Equally disappointing was the press coverage afterwards. Of course, all of the Republican hacks thought he was wonderful, but even the more "objective" and liberal pundits, as well as the newspaper reports the following day seemed to think in was somehow impolite or politically incorrect to admit that the guy is a total embarrassment. As one blogger put it (can't remember where it was), it was like the elephant sitting in the room that no one wanted to acknowledge.

I have discussed my impressions with a few friends who totally agree. But, then, I realized sometime early one evening in November 1980 that I didn't exactly have my finger on the pulse of the American voter. Maybe my friends and I are all just a small cadre of crazy, deluded Francophone, surrender-monkey, left-wing cult-members -- and we don't even know it.

So you can imagine my relief when Kevin Drum referred me to this article from the British Daily Mirror headlined, THE PRESIDENT'S BRAIN IS MISSING: Millions see Dubya fluff question on conflict (Check here for an image of the actual headline. Clip and save.) At least the British press are not afraid to note that the Emperor has no brain clothes.

Thanks Kevin, you were right. That did feel good.