Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bush press conference: He gains a lot from it by saying, look at me, I’m now recognized by the President of the United States

In a meeting with the Czech prime minister yesterday, Bush tried to reassure Russia about his Star Wars program: “If some of these countries develop a weapon that’s capable of developing a nuclear warhead, free nations, nations such as Russia, do not want to be in a position of political blackmail.” Free nations such as Russia? Define “free.”

Maliki (remember him?) said in a broadcast speech, “National reconciliation efforts have succeeded in Iraq and the Iraqis have once again become loving brothers.” See, and you didn’t think the Iraqis would once again becoming loving brothers.

Bush held a press conference this morning.

He accused opponents of the war in Iraq of being, gasp, consistent: “It seems that no matter what happens in Iraq opponents to the war have one answer: Retreat. ... I guess you could say that when it comes for pushing for withdrawal, their strategy is to stay the course.”

He said he’s “concerned about working Americans, concerned about people who want to put money on the table”. Of course he’s even more concerned about people who want to put money in their gold bathtubs and dive into it naked.

Bush press conf, 2.28.08  1

THE R WORD: “I don’t think we’re headed to a recession, but no question we’re in a slowdown.” Er, isn’t a recession a slowdown by, you know, definition? When he kept denying that Iraq was in a civil war, I suggested, as a compromise, “crapfest.” I offer it again now.

IN OTHER WORDS: “Credit will happen in the first week of May. In other words, some people will choose to have their bank accounts credited.”

AND ALL THAT STUFF. “I know there’s a lot of -- here in Washington, people are trying to -- stimulus package two and all that stuff. Why don’t we let stimulus package one, which seemed like a good idea at the time, have a chance to kick in?”

Bush press conf, 2.28.08  4

He explained why the Kurds should embrace being invaded by Turkey: “One, the Turks, the Americans, and the Iraqis, including the Iraqi Kurds, share a common enemy in the PKK. And secondly, it’s in nobody’s interests that there be safe haven for people who are -- have the willingness to kill innocent people.”


IN OTHER WORDS: “I strongly agree with the sentiments of Secretary Gates, who said that the incursion must be limited, and must be temporary in nature. In other words, it shouldn’t be long-lasting.”

So how long is long?
Q: But how quickly, sir, do they need to move out?

Bush: You know, as quickly as possible.

Q: Days or weeks?

Bush: Well, as possible.
A reporter asked about Clinton and Obama’s lack of familiarity with Putin’s successor slash puppet, but rather annoyingly didn’t ask Russert’s question, “What is his name?” Bush admitted, “I don’t know much about Medvedev either.” You might want to get on that.

Bush press conf, 2.28.08  5

However, he did say that “it is in the interest of the country to have a relationship” with him. Then he dropped the bombshell that will send Kim Jong-il to bed weeping into his pillow tonight: “I’m not going to have a personal relationship with Kim Jong-il, and our relationships are such that that’s impossible.”

(Incidentally, I’m opposed to orchestras performing in North Korea until all the kidnapped actors and directors are accounted for.)

He returned to the theme of Obama’s naivete later: “What’s lost by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs? What’s lost is it will send the wrong message. It will send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity.” Great status? Well, everyone in a room with Bush does look smarter and more dignified by comparison...

Bush press conf, 2.28.08  2

“I’m not suggesting there’s never a time to talk, but I’m suggesting now is not the time -- not to talk with Raul Castro. He’s nothing more than an extension of what his brother did, which was to ruin an island”. What, he turned it into an isthmus?

Comedy tip of the day: the word isthmus is always funny.

Bush: And the idea of embracing a leader who’s done this without any attempt on his part to release prisoners and free their society would be counterproductive and send the wrong signal.”

Q: No one is saying embrace him, they’re just saying talk --

Bush: Well, talking to him is embracing. Excuse me. Let me use another word -- you’re right, ‘embrace’ is like big hug, right? You’re looking -- I do embrace people. Mike, one of these days, I’m just thinking about -- (laughter.) Right, okay, good, thank you for reminding me to use a different word. Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him. He gains a lot from it by saying, look at me, I’m now recognized by the President of the United States.
That does sound like just exactly the sort of thing Raul would say.

Bush concluded: “And in my judgment, it would be a mistake -- on the two countries you talked about.” Cuba and Iran, George, Cuba and Iran. It helps to remember what countries you’re talking about.

However, he won’t let a little thing like lack of freedom prevent him enjoying the Olympics. “And maybe I’m in a little different position. Others don’t have a chance to visit with Hu Jintao, but I do.” Then he went on for a bit about how “every time I meet with him I talk about religious freedom” and how “if you’re allowed to worship freely, it will benefit the society” and “the Chinese government should not fear the idea of people praying to a god as they see fit” etc.. He didn’t mention any other sort of freedom, just religious freedom.

HAVE ALLEGED. On retroactive telecom immunity: “The government said to those who have alleged to have helped us that it is in our national interests and it’s legal”. Even if (when) this is passed, the claim that it was legal will still have been a lie, you know.


COINCIDENTALLY, WHAT’S IN HIS OWN HEAD: GRAVY. “And now, all of a sudden, plaintiffs attorneys, class-action plaintiffs attorneys, you know -- I don’t want to try to get inside their head; I suspect they see, you know, a financial gravy train -- are trying to sue these companies.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “I firmly believe that free trade is essential to the formation of high-paying, quality jobs. In other words, people who work for industries that export goods to overseas are likely to be paid more than their -- other workers.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “I also know it’s in our interest to insist that when people sell products into our countries [sic], that we get treated fairly. In other words, if we treat a country one way, people in a country one way, we expect to be treated the same way -- like Colombia.”

My favorite part of the presser came when he tried to spin the torpedoing of local elections in Iraq as a triumph of democracy: “a member of the presidency council utilized his constitutional right to veto one of the three pieces of legislation recently passed. I understand the use of the veto, intend to continue to use it, but I thought it was a healthy sign that people are thinking through the legislation that’s passed, and they’re worrying about making sure that laws are constitutional.”

HE HAS AN MBA, YOU KNOW: “We believe in a strong dollar policy, and we believe that -- and I believe that our economy has got the fundamentals in place for us to be a -- is to grow and continue growing more robustly, hopefully, than we’re growing now. And the dollar, the value of the dollar will be reflected in the ability for our economy to be -- to grow economically. And so we’re still for a strong dollar.”

Asked about the predictions of $4 per gallon gasoline by summer, Bush said, “That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that.” Again, by the way, a reporter missed a great gotcha opportunity by failing to preface his question by asking Bush what the price of gas is now.

DOESN’T KNOW THE MEANING OF THE WORD TRANSITORY: “And this -- I view it as a transitory period to new technologies that will change the way we live”.

AND I’M SURE THEY APPRECIATE IT. “This administration has done more for renewables than any President.”

LOOKING AT WHAT’S HAPPENED IN CORN OUT THERE. “Again, I repeat, if you look at what’s happened in corn out there, you’re beginning to see the food issue and the energy issue collide.”

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