Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bush in Mexico, where the inflamed passions come from

In Mexico, one last press conference, one can only hope, in which Bush attempts to speak Spanish. You’d think being surrounded for the better part of a week by people speaking Spanish would finally disabuse him of the notion that he can speak Spanish, but evidently not.

(I’ll also be happy to see the back of my own not very funny running “where the ____ comes from” gag, which started so innocently with a reference to an 1890s play about cross-dressing 95% of you have never seen anyway, although it’s been filmed about 1,000 times.)

Lamest example of Bush using Spanish, just from this one event: when a reporter asked Calderón what he talked about during lunch with former president Fox, a lunch at which Bush was not present, Bush popped up with, “They talked about carne.”

He talked about drugs. See if you can spot what the key word is regarding drugs: “I made it very clear to the President that I recognize the United States has a responsibility in the fight against drugs. And one major responsibility is to encourage people to use less drugs. When there is demand, there is supply. ... So we have a responsibility. Mexico has a responsibility, as well, and the President is working hard on that responsibility.”

“Mexico is, obviously, a sovereign nation, and the President, if he so chooses, like he has, will lay out an agenda where the United States can be a constructive partner.” You just blew my mind.

Bush proclaimed himself “a big believer in student exchanges between our two nations, on both sides of the border. And one reason I am is because I think it’s important sometimes for people to gain an accurate perception of my country by coming to my country.” Indeed, earlier in the day he had “met with some students, that are funded through USAID programs, who have come to the United States to take different courses in different subjects, and then have come back to Mexico to lend the expertise that they have gained to improve the communities in which they live.” Note his paternalistic assumptions about who has “expertise” to teach whom. Nothing about what Americans might have to learn from their little brown brothers.

He called immigration a “sensitive issue... I say, sensitive, because obviously this is an issue that people can use to inflame passions.” In other words, people don’t have real grievances, they aren’t really exploited and screwed over, and if they think they are, it’s because wicked people (who he does not name) are inflaming their passions and their hot Latin blood.

Asked some question about internal Mexican oil issues, Bush said, “And I’m confident that the President will make the best interests for the people of Mexico”.

Asked about OverblownPersonnelMatterGate, Bush insisted that the firings were entirely “appropriate” and a “customary practice,” and the only mistake was not explaining it well enough. And even that he acknowledged in a form that didn’t actually admit that the problem was at the executive branch’s end: “the fact that both Republicans and Democrats feel like that there was not straightforward communication troubles me” (emphasis added). And boy was he peeved that it was intruding on his little junket: “And yet this issue was mishandled to the point now where you’re asking me questions about it in Mexico”.

Later, he added that the US attorneys “serve at the pleasure of the president,” which I guess means that when he says “what was mishandled was the explanation of the cases to the Congress,” the only explanation he thinks was required was “We fired them because we could and we felt like it, nyah.” The bright side (because to Bush the Teapot Dome is always half full) is that Gonzales is now handling his previous mishandling perfectly: “And the thing I appreciate about the Attorney General was, he said publicly he could have handled it better, mistakes were made, and took action.” Action? What “action” would that be? The nine-minute press conference?

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