Wednesday, January 26, 2005

1/26/05 Bush Press Conference: 5 chuckles, 5 laughters, 2 laughs, and 1 scattered laughter

I was dismayed by the light-hearted tone of this conference, given the fact that at least 36 American soldiers have died in the last 24 hours, more than any other day of the war. And despite this, Bush was cracking one-liners and ribbing the White House Press Corps like he always does. It just doesn't seem appropriate today.

So you can get a sense of what I mean, here are excerpts from the transcript of President Bush's news conference (as recorded by Federal News Service Inc.). I cut and pasted every line where there was chuckling or laughter:

"...I don't know the facts -- (chuckles)."

"Q (Laughs.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: (Chuckles.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: Is that your question? The answer is no. Next? (Laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: (Chuckles.)"

"Q (Chuckles.)"

"Q He, sir. (Scattered laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: He. Excuse me. Should have done the background check. (Laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: (Chuckles.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: (Laughs.) Glad to have you here. (Laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: Acting like one, however. Go ahead. (Laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: Faulty memory. (Laughter.)"

And I'm not saying that Bush is evil or doesn't care about what happened today, I'm just saying that my ideal president would not be cracking jokes during a press conference on a day like today. And don't get me wrong, I appreciate Bush's desire to convey a sense of optimism. But what Americans needed from their leader today was a serious, somber optimimism; what they got was a jokey, nonchalant optimism. Even Bush's specific reference to the helicopter crash was cursory at best: "I know that it's being investigated by the Defense Department. Obviously, any time we lose life, it is a sad moment."

I think it's time for Bush put away the whole 'locker room banter' approach to press conferences.

In fact, the locker room analagy isn't even a fair one. Think about the last athlete you saw at a press conference after a tough game. The chances are pretty good that they were taking those reporters and their questions more seriously than Bush appears to take the White House Press Corps. It's pretty ridiculous when you think about it... Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers is giving articulate and sincere answers to questions about his interceptions, meanwhile our President is shrugging off questions about Foreign Relations and Social Security like he's dealing with hecklers at the Comedy Cellar.

We are at war. Americans and Iraqi soldiers are dying every day. Is it too much to ask for a President who looks like he's taking things pretty damn seriously?

(On a brighter note, Bush did have a good line about immigration: "I want to remind people that family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River. People are coming to our country to do jobs that Americans won't do, to be able to feed their families.")

The press conference will be on again at 8 pm EST on C-SPAN.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


The President's attitude is indicative of this whole war - most of us have no connection to it (we don't have any soldiers in our family or circle of friends). Pres. Bush may mourn the lives lost today, but he has no personal attachment to these soldiers.