Thursday, September 23, 2004


A Photo-Op Gone Bad

As if he were trying to prove my point from yesterday, President Bush held a train wreck of a press conference today with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Appearing together in the White House Rose Garden for what should have been a tailor-made photo-op, the two men each read a prepared statement basically kissing each other's asses. Everything seemed to be going as planned. Then Bush did the unthinkable; he said "We'll take a couple of questions now." That's when the wheels started coming off.

From the very first question it was clear that Bush was in over his head.

Really? He's hiding? Well, that explains everything. No wonder we haven't found him, he's pulling that old bin Laden trick. Who would have thought that he'd be hiding. Are you kidding me? This is his answer? Sure, he went on to make some unrelated statements about thugs and the war on terror, but he never answered the question.

Question two:

In other words, he's not leveling with anyone. Notice the talking points: stay the course, consistent, mixed messages, clarity. They're all there, but still no answer.

Question three came from the Iraqi press and was pretty much a softball about funding for Iraq so we'll skip that one.

Question four was asked by NBC's David Gregory. Unfortunately, the only transcript I can find comes from Fox News and they've cut the majority of the question. I had to do with the current situation in Iraq (beheadings, kidnapping, bombings, etc.) and ended as follows:

As you can see, he failed yet again to answer the question. But lo and behold, Gregory had the balls to call him on it.

Still no answer, just talking points. Unfortunately, the transcript fails to convey the entire picture here. When Gregory accused the president of not answering the question, Bush let out an exassperated sigh reminiscent of Al Gore in the first 2000 debate. It was as if he couldn't believe someone would have the audacity to point that out in front of the cameras. He quickly moved on to question five:

So he would have replaced "guess" with "estimate." Big deal, it doesn't change what he said. Even with the alternate wording, he's claiming that our intelligence agencies are estimating. Did they estimate that Saddam had WMD? Did they estimate that an attack from Saddam was imminent? Did they estimate about Saddam's ties to al Qaeda? I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly feel more secure knowing that our government is operating on estimates. At this point, Bush still hasn't answered a single legitimate question. It would continue like this for the remaining three questions.

As I said yesterday, President Bush is out of answers. He's been reduced to nonsensical ramblings and speaking in soundbites. The best thing for the Kerry campaign at this point is to hope that Bush holds more press conferences. The more he talks, the worse he looks.

What I don't understand is why he was allowed to take questions today. Karl Rove had the perfect photo-op. It was all there: the new Iraqi Prime Minister, the President, the flags representing each country, the rose garden, the White House; it was perfect. Then he let Bush go without a net and it all went to hell. God, I can't wait for the debates. Kerry's going to kill him.

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