Wednesday, February 28, 2007

But the idea that I’d go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business

So on the day we learn that Walter Reed patients have been ordered not to speak to the press, Bush met with some “social entrepreneurs who have decided to help improve the lives of our servicemen and women and their families,” by, for example, entrepreneurially “helping the chaplains help kids, or... helping a family of the injured”. For example, the person in charge of the project giving families life-size cardboard “flat soldiers” was there. They told George some stories: “One of the most enjoyable things I do as the President is to hear stories of my fellow citizens -- stories of compassion, stories of care.” So glad he’s enjoying himself. So glad he thinks of amputees and brain-damaged soldiers as characters in stories. And supporting characters at that. “I’m proud to be the President of a country with so many decent citizens.” Once again, he seems to think that only Americans are decent.

Speaking of decent citizens, you’ll have heard of the background briefing held on Air Force Two by a Senior Administration Official whose name could not be used, who said, “I’ve seen some press reporting says, ‘Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them.’ That’s not the way I work. ... But the idea that I’d go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business.”

The SAO reported on (or possibly gave a valid misreading of) his meeting with Karzai, who he said was “upbeat” because the US is going to give him lots of money and yet more troops. SAO made it abundantly clear that the sole basis of Karzai’s authority is American backing, and that it always has been: “He told a story to the group there about -- this was the immediate aftermath of 9/11 -- about meeting with a group of tribal elders in one of the remote parts of Afghanistan. He was trying to get them organized to participate in going after the Taliban and governing Afghanistan. And he said the only question they wanted to ask me was, is the United States with you.” SAO doesn’t even realize that there’s anything problematic about that.

The SAO warned that Karzai is a crashing bore: “You sit down and talk with Karzai, he’ll talk about the history of Pashtun rule in the region for 500 years. He can tell you what the Durand Treaty was all about between Afghanistan and India in 1889 or whenever it was, and why that’s important to today’s conflict and so forth.” Will this be on the test? No, sadly none of the reporters dared to follow this up by asking the SAO to explain what he – or she! – learned about what the Durand Treaty (of 1893) was all about and why it’s important to today’s conflict and so forth.

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