Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens

A concerted attack by members of the 9/11 Commission on John “Lost to a Dead Guy” Ashcroft today could have done major damage to Bush, who scheduled a press conference timed to undercut it. In the end, the guy who downgraded terrorism as a priority for the Justice Dept because he was more interested in drugs and porn (aren’t we all?) and whose only response to intelligence was to stop flying commercial airlines, was let off remarkably lightly.

And so was Bush, following an interminable opener in which he stressed the same syllables (3rd and 7th, or whatever it was) in every single sentence. Every question was so unspecific as to allow him to squirm out. Interestingly, he gave the same answer to a question about whether he could name any mistake he’d made as Eisenhower gave about whether he could name any contributions Nixon had made to his administration (give me a few days, and I might come up with something). And he never did answer why he felt the need to testify to the 9/11 Commission only with Cheney holding his hand, or whatever he holds. And he needs a new adjective; he slathers “tough” all over every sentence like ketchup on his mother’s awful cooking. (Later: Juan Cole says it is in bad taste to equate the “tough” week for his administration with the “tough” week for families of the dead soldiers.) He also kept repeating that we were changing the world, and some crap about liberty. Josh Marshall: “I saw a man on autopilot, and a pretty crude autopilot at that.” Indeed, he repeated almost every exaggeration of the danger allegedly posed by Saddam; we should be grateful he didn’t bring up the yellowcake again.

When Bush characterized opponents of his insane Iraq policy as believing that Muslims or “brown-skinned” people can’t have democracies, did anyone else remember his father referring to Jeb’s kids as “the little brown ones”?

Mostly, he gave off the same air of passivity as Condi Rice did, not just about the past, when he’d have been willing to “move mountains” if only someone had told him what to do and where to do it (I’m not sure how strip-mining would have prevented terrorism, but Bush was willing to do it, right after he tried out tax cuts and drilling in Alaska to see if they would prevent terrorism), but also about the future. A paragraph from Salon demonstrates this passivity:
To whom will the United States hand over Iraqi sovereignty on June 30? "We'll find that out soon." Why haven't U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces been effective in quelling the uprisings? "We'll need to find out why." Was the information contained in the infamous Aug. 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief accurate? "I presume the 9/11 commission will find out." What about those weapons of mass destruction? "Of course I want to know why we haven't found a weapon yet," the president said. Later, he said of the WMD: "I look forward to hearing the truth as to exactly where they are."

A few fortune-cookie statements from the press conference: “A country that hides something is a country that is afraid of getting caught.” “I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either.” “Oceans don’t protect us. They don't protect us from killers.” “Look, nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens.” “We weren't on a war footing.” “I expect information that comes to my desk to be real and valid.” He actually used the name Osama bin Laden for what may well be the first time in a year or two.

Today was World Turban Day, aka, World Hey We’re Fucking Sikhs, Not Fucking Muslims! Day

I’ve mentioned wacky Turkmenistan president-for-life Niyazov before. There’s an article in the Indy. First paragraph: “He has banned beards and listening to car radios, and instituted a national holiday in honour of a melon. Now the world's craziest dictator has identified a new and pressing danger to his people: gold teeth.”

The Daily Kos: “Bush approaches the world as if the good things that happen to him are the result of virtue and the bad things the result of environment, but with other people it's the exact opposite.”

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