Sunday, June 10, 2007

They love him in Albania (they can keep him)

Thomas Ricks of the WaPo writes of Pentagon plans for Korea-style bases in Iraq, “One of the guiding principles, according to two officials here, is that the United States should leave Iraq more intelligently than it entered.” Talk about setting the bar low.

Speaking of WaPo journalists, Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” will be made into a movie. With Matt Damon.

George Bush is in the only country in the world that actually likes him, the only country where he could risk going out in public,

the only country whose prime minister would describe him as “the greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times” (well, almost the only country, but Tony Blair’s out by the end of the month).

Oh, sorry, it’s Albania, which Bush called “a country that has casted off the shackles of a very repressive society”.

(And by the way, headline of the day, from the White House website: “President Bush Makes Toast in Albania.” White or wheat? No, wait, I’ll bet it was raisin.)

Bush uttered a prime example of the “in other words” genre: “I commended the Prime Minister for the progress that Albania has made in defense reform -- in other words, part of becoming a member of NATO requires a reformation of the defense forces.” Followed two sentences later by another: “In other words, you’re just not accepted into membership; you just can’t say, I want to join”. He suggested that, “The politicians have got to work together now to meet the standards. They’ve got to set aside political differences and focus on what’s right for Albania.” It’s generally considered bad form to lecture condescendingly to politicians in other countries as if they were Democrats and to accuse them of partisanship.

On the subject of Kosovo, a rather sputtering “in other words”: “In other words, I put a sense of -- I made it clear that -- two things, one that we need to get moving; and two, that the end result is independence.”

A reporter began a question, “Yesterday you called for a deadline for U.N. action on Kosovo...” Bush responded, “A couple of points on that. First of all, I don’t think I called for a deadline. I thought I said, time -- I did? What exactly did I say? I said, ‘deadline’? Okay, yes, then I meant what I said.” Here is what he did say yesterday:
Q: And the deadline for the Kosovo independence --

PRESIDENT BUSH: What? Say that again?

Q: Deadline for the Kosovo independence?


Q: Deadline, deadline.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Deadline. Beg your pardon. My English isn’t very good. (Laughter.)

For example, as with Iraq, he literally does not know the meaning of the word deadline.

Here Bush is seen arriving at Tirana Airport and receiving the traditional gift of flowers and a 12-year old girl.

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