Friday, August 31, 2007

An attack for liberty

A bunch of Bush interviews and events from yesterday and today got dumped on the White House website today. This is grueling.

First, a roundtable yesterday with various foreign press, about the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. “It’s an interesting setting, when you have people from different cultures, different languages come together for a common purpose.” Really, the whole concept of people with different cultures who speak different languages is always such a surprise to him.

He’s looking forward to the summit. “Opportunity for me to continue to talk about the struggle between radicalism and reasonableness, between extremism and people that want to live in peace.” Reasonableness.

What else is he looking forward to? “I’m looking forward to reminding people that I take the climate change issue seriously... those of us who are emitters will be there”.

What else? “And this will be an opportunity for me to remind our friends at the table that this is the call of our time, and that we have an opportunity to write a hopeful chapter here in the beginning of the 21st century, and to thank people around the table for understanding this is the call of the time, because there’s been a lot of constructive engagement and good work all aimed at protecting ourselves from short-term attack”.

WHAT DOES HE VIEW CHINA AS? Well, “it’s hard to define the relationship in kind of a simple, one-sentence structure.” Harder for some people than for others. But, “I view China as an opportunity.”

HOW DOES HE VIEW TRADE? “I view it as an -- I view all of us contribute, so long as the world doesn’t slip into protectionism.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “And from a personal perspective, have got warm and cordial relationships with President Hu Jintao. I like him; I like to talk to him. He’s a smart man. We can share issues together. I can say, what are your biggest problems, and he can say to me, what are your problems. In other words, we’ve got a personal relationship.”

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING WHAT LEADERS DO: “And that’s the way I try to do with all leaders, because the best diplomacy is when you can sit down with somebody one-on-one and speak candidly about issues and problems. We’re problem solvers. See, that’s what leaders do.”

Also, there’s a lot of that Putin-eye-looking-into thing: “And as I told you, a lot of foreign policy for me is the capacity to just look at somebody in the eye and tell them what I think, and listen to what they think.”

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING WHAT MURDER IS: “In terms of -- murder is murder, and murder to achieve political objectives is -- needs to be stopped.”

EVIDENTLY THERE’S A WEIRD-ASS DEBATE GOING ON: He continued, “People murdered Americans to achieve a political objective. There’s a debate in our country whether that’s true or not. I’ve made up my mind. I believe it’s absolutely fundamentally true”.

He kept saying that “in the Muslim world, it’s very important for people to understand that the war on terror is not a war against Muslims, it’s a war against murderers. I don’t believe religious people, truly religious people kill the innocent. At least that’s not the religion I believe in.” During that last sentence, he seems to have forgotten that he’s not a Muslim. You’d think it would be easy to remember which religion you claim to believe in.

DISPEL FALSE NOTION AND REINFORCE THE REALTIES: “And any chance we have to dispel false notion and to reinforce the realities is helpful to the United States, and frankly others, as well.”

He said of the invasion of Afghanistan, “This wasn’t an attack on Islam; this was an attack for liberty.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “Unfinished business is North Korea. It’s -- let me just say, it is finishing. In other words, we’re making progress.”

I’ve been cutting back on the number of Bush subject-verb disagreements I quote, but how little attention do you have to pay to how people speak for this to come out of your mouth: “The six-party talks is working”?

IN OTHER WORDS: “And as John Abizaid put it, to think the enemy will stay there and not follow us here is -- in other words, we leave before the job is done, they will follow us home.”

What I like about these press conferences with foreign reporters is that some of them actually expect him to know stuff:

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. My next question would touch on Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

THE PRESIDENT: About what?

Q: Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, right, right.

A reporter informed him that Malaysia is about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence (although it included Singapore in those days). Bush started dictating copy:

THE PRESIDENT: Fiftieth. Make sure my congratulatory remarks get in your article. Headline: Bush congratulates Malaysia. (Laughter.) Do you think that’s what it will say?

Q: Something like that.

He even proved that he read part of the flash card about Malaysia:

THE PRESIDENT: Secondly, I respect Prime Minister Badawi, admire his leadership. When his wife died I tried to call him early just to let him know I cared about him.

Q: He has remarried.

THE PRESIDENT: Has he? Good. I’ll congratulate him. Thanks for giving me that heads-up. Don’t put that in the article that you had to tell me that. You can put it in there if you want. (Laughter.) I’ll be glad to -- I’m going to congratulate him. That’s neat.

MR. WILDER: You did, sir.


MR. WILDER: You did congratulate him.

THE PRESIDENT: Exactly. I’m going to congratulate him again. (Laughter.) I’ll double the congratulations. (Laughter.) That’s right, I did write him a note. I forgot. Did I call him or write him a note?

MR. WILDER: You wrote him a note.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s right, yes. Sent him a couple flowers.

Then he did an interview with Australia’s SKY News.

HOW DOES HE VIEW AUSTRALIA’S CONTRIBUTION TO PEACE AND FREEDOM? “And so I view Australia’s contribution to peace and freedom as more than just Iraq. ... I view their contribution as intelligence contributions.”

BACK TO SCHOOL: “And I believe those of us who live in liberty have a responsibility to promote forms of government that deal with what causes 19 kids to get on airplanes to kill 3,000 students.”

He refused to “accept the hypothesis” that the opposition might win the forthcoming Australian elections.

The reporter informed him that the entire city of Sydney will be locked down for his visit to the APEC summit. He said this was the first he’d heard of it and, um, sorry ‘bout that.

Then he did an interview with Japan’s NHK.

HE’S NOT SURE WHAT ANBAR PROVINCE USED TO BE: “Al-Anbar province used to be a safe haven -- not a safe haven, used to be kind of the grounds where it looked like al Qaeda was going to be the predominant force, and now we’ve got them on the run. And so there’s been success in the security.”

THE DREAD DOUBLE “IN OTHER WORDS” (AND A WORD DEFINED): “At the grass roots level, in other words at the local level, when people feel secure, they start asking questions about what does it take to create peace so their families can grow up peacefully. In other words, when the thugs get removed and people start saying, I’ve got a different attitude, that’s called reconciliation.”

Today he gave a little talk on the sub-prime-loan thing. Sigh. Boy, am I tired right now. What say I do just a little bit of blogging on it now, and a lot more in a couple of years?

“See, it’s easy for me to stand up here and talk about refinancing -- some people don’t even know what I’m talking about.” Imagine that.

MAKING THE MORTGAGE INDUSTRY MORE TRANSPARENT, AND THIS SENTENCE NOT SO MUCH: “the federal government is taking a variety of actions to make the mortgage industry more transparent, more reliable and more fair, so we can reduce the likelihood that these kind of lending problems won’t happen again.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “We’re pursuing wrongdoing and fraud in the mortgage industry through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and other agencies. In other words, if you’ve been cheating somebody we’re going to find you and hold you to account.”


Q: Sir, what about the hedge funds and banks that are overexposed on the sub-prime market? That’s a bigger problem. Have you got a plan?


In the afternoon, he announced that Tony Insert-Snow-Related-Pun-Here is retiring and will be replaced by Dana Peroxide. I speak for bloggers everywhere when I say, Thank you, George. Perino, he claimed, “is a smart, capable person who is able to spell out the issues of the day in a way that people listening on TV can understand. She can handle you all.”

And vice versa.


Q: How do you feel about losing everybody?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all.

Finally, there was a Labor Day message, which noted that “Our country’s economy is built on the hard work and ingenuity of the American people” and said that “On Labor Day, we honor the hard work and dedication of the men and women of our workforce.”

Maybe it was in anticipation of Labor Day, but in the interviews I’ve cited here, he used the phrase “hard work” quite often. So what is hard work?
“we have to be in a position to work collaboratively and bilaterally to convince countries that in order to be a part of the international world, you have to honor contract, and one contract is you don’t steal somebody else’s intellectual property. That’s hard work.”

“One of the things that this administration has done in working with our friends is to work hard to explain to people the beneficial nature of trading together.”

“I have worked hard to develop bilateral relations in such a way that we can achieve strategic objectives.”

“we need to do the hard work necessary so we can have peace in the long term for children growing up both in the United States and Australia.”

“And I will end up dealing with whomever and work hard to make sure that the Australian and U.S. relationship is good”

“And this administration has worked hard to be in a position to convince others to work together to solve problems.”

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