Monday, December 15, 2008

I don’t think you can take one guy throwing shoes and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq

Dick Cavett on Blagojevich: “We all know from childhood that it’s not nice to make fun of people’s appearance. So I will confine myself to merely observing that whatever covers the governor’s head looks to me like a bowling-ball cozy.”

Bush went on a “surprise” visit to Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House made a big deal about how Iraq is finally safe enough that Air Force One could touch down in daylight. Truly, the five and a half years of war have all been worth it.

Of course Bush visited the troops, who Hoo-ahed him (and once, USA USA USA’d him).

BUSH: Laura and I have been having a lot of Christmas parties at the White House, so I thought it would be kind of neat to change the scenery.


BUSH: in the spirit of the season we renamed Air Force One to Rudolph One.


A HEAVILY-ARMED BLESSING: “This is a time of year to give thanks for our many blessings – and the greatest blessing we have is freedom and the fact that we’ve got a United States military to defend that freedom.”

THOSE COUNTRY: “There have been a lot of troops from around the world who have come to help this young democracy survive and thrive. And so I want to thank the citizens of those country [sic] and the troops who have served here before us.”

DRAMA QUEEN: “But thanks to you, the Iraq we stand in tonight is dramatically freer, dramatically safer, and dramatically better than the Iraq we found eight years ago.” (AUDIENCE: Hoo-ah!)

BROKEN RECORD: “I want to take you back to what life was like eight years ago here in Iraq. Iraq had a record of supporting terror, a record of developing and using weapons of mass destruction...”

NO DOUBT, OR ANYTHING ELSE REALLY: “There’s more hard work to do before we reach that day. But if there is any -- but if there is no doubt -- but there is no doubt in my mind, there’s just no doubt that we’re going to reach that day. I am confident because our cause is just. And freedom is universal.”

OR POSSIBLY, “ENOUGH WITH THE ANCIENT HISTORY ALREADY, GRAMPS!”: “I guess what I’m telling you is your grandchildren some day are going to say, ‘Thank God you showed up and served.’”

GROWING UP WITH SOMETHING ELSE: “We think of those who have laid down their lives for freedom here in Iraq. Their children are growing up without a mom or a dad. But all of our children are growing up with something else -- the promise of a safer America and a better world.” So that’s okay then.

WHAT THE VOICES IN HIS HEAD ASK: “They ask me what I’m going to miss as the President. I’ll tell you what I’m going to miss: being the Commander-in-Chief of such a fabulous group of folks.” Fabulous, that’s one a mah commander-in-chief phrases.

He met with Maliki, signed the Status of Forces Agreement, then turned to the only thing that really interests him on these foreign trips: “And I’m looking forward to some food.”

YOU NOTICE: “And our plan is working. You notice I say ‘our plan.’”

OF WHY WE FIGHT: “This is a future of what we’ve been fighting for”

SACRIFICED? YOU MEAN THEY CHOSE TO HAVE THEIR COUNTRY DESTROYED? “And the Iraqi people have sacrificed a lot.”

AND BARACK SAYS THANKS A BUNDLE: “And we are leaving the next president with a stable foundation for the future, and an approach that can enjoy broad bipartisan support at home.”

DO TELL: “The war is not yet over”.

At this point there was what the White House transcript describes as: “(Audience interruption.)”

Good reflexes, huh? But then, if you had to hang out with Dick Cheney, you’d practice your ducking skills too.

Naturally, Bush took this as yet another sign of the great progress in Iraq: “But that’s what happens in free societies, where people try to draw attention to themselves.” “It’s like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It’s like driving down the street and have people not gesturing with all five fingers. It’s a way for people to, you know, draw -- I don’t know what the guy’s cause is. But one thing is for certain -- he caused you to ask me a question about it.”

By the time he was interviewed by the pool reporters, his gag writers had gone to work on jokes about “ducking questions” and “I didn’t know what the guy said, but I saw his sole.” One of the reporters responded, “So you weren’t a lame duck.”

A reporter said of the footwear-hurler: “Obviously he’s expressing a vein of anger that exists in Iraq, and...”, at which point Bush interrupted to ask, “How do you know? I mean, how do we know what he’s expressing?” I’m thinking the first hint was the left shoe and the second hint was the right shoe.

WHAT IT WAS: “All I’m telling you, it was a bizarre moment.”

WHAT ONE GUY THROWING SHOES DOESN’T REPRESENT: “I don’t think you can take one guy throwing shoes and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq.” Why don’t you go stand on a street corner and see if anyone else throws shoes at you, so we can find out for sure?

WHAT (ELSE) STRUCK HIM: “one of the things that struck me was not the road, but was the amount of electricity there was inside Baghdad. It looked like a pretty well-lit city.” That’s not electricity, those were burning American flags.

WHAT HE SAW: “I saw a lot of kids playing soccer; I saw a lot of activity, a lot of street activity on the route we took. And General Odierno said a while ago that wouldn’t have been the case.”

HE’S THE REMINDERER: “Part of my mission here was to remind the Iraqi government that there is still a lot of work to be done on SFA-SOFA”.

IN OTHER WORDS: The questions turned to the American economy. “We took note that there was a majority in the House and the Senate that voted for a package for the autos that would have caused them to begin to show how they’re going to be viable. In other words, I have made this statement that given the status of the financial system, an abrupt bankruptcy for the autos could be devastating for the economy.”

YEAH, TRY NOT TO DO THAT CRATERING THING: “And therefore, we’ve tried to work with Congress to accomplish the objective of not cratering the economy as well as making sure good money doesn’t go after bad.”

He said repeatedly that decreased violence in Iraq was a sign of success. Increased violence in Afghanistan is also, of course, a sign of success: “No question the violence is up. But one reason why the violence is up is that we’re now putting troops into places where there hadn’t been troops -- begin to press these guys in places where they hadn’t been pressed.” Kinky.

DID YOU EVER THINK, AFTER 1969 OR SO, THAT ANYONE WOULD EVER AGAIN USE THE PHRASE “HEARTS AND MINDS” IN A NON-SARCASTIC SENSE? “Like a lot of other situations in which you’re trying to deal with extremists who get embedded in the population, there are two aspects -- one is to pressure them and to bring them to justice; and simultaneously try to win the hearts and minds of the local folks, which is what is happening Iraq.”

WHAT THE ELECTION PROCESS IN AFGHANISTAN WILL PROVIDE: “So the election process in Afghanistan will once again provide people an opportunity to say, we’re tired of this, or we appreciate that.”

The nicknamer-in-chief asked the NYT’s Steven Lee Myers, “Mind if I call you Jimmy Lee?” Q: “Steven Lee.” BUSH: “Stevie Lee, I mean.”

WHAT THESE NATIONS NEED TO KNOW: “These nations need to know that the United States has been with them, is with them, and will be with them.”

He was also interviewed by Martha Raddatz of ABC.

He described the shoe incident as “amusing. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of weird things during my presidency and this may rank up there as one of the weirdest.” Although that turnip in the shape of Al Pacino was pretty weird too.

He added, “I thought it was interesting, I thought it was unusual to have a guy throw his shoe at you. But I’m not insulted.”

TURNS OUT: “One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq.” Raddatz pointed out, “But not until after the U.S. invaded.” Bush responded, “Yeah, that’s right. So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they’re going to take a stand.” So what.

So what!!!

LUXURY: Asked about another rationale for the war, WMDs, he said: “I did not have the luxury of knowing he did not have them, neither did the rest of the world until after we had come and removed him.” A luxury is a fur-lined toilet seat. Knowing what you’re talking about before launching a war, some people would consider that a necessity.

WHY THE SOFA ISN’T ONE OF THOSE ARTIFICIAL TIMETABLES HE DOESN’T LIKE: “What I talked about timetables, was a political timetable imposed upon Iraq by people who didn’t think we should have been in there in the first place. This is an agreement between the sovereign government of Iraq and the U.S. government with the considered judgment of our military commanders at the core of, uh, of the agreement.”

WHY EVERYONE SHOULD JUST GO AHEAD AND IGNORE OBAMA’S PROMISE TO BE OUT OF IRAQ IN 16 months: “His plan -- the numbers didn’t come up -- but one of the things I assured the Iraqi government of is that President-elect Obama is, uh, will honor the agreements that we have just signed”.

BRILLIANT: Says Obama’s choice of Shinseki to head the Dept of Veterans Affairs is “a brilliant appointment,” and says he didn’t ignore his call for more troops in Iraq: “I did listen to Gen. Shinseki when he came in with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Well, there’s listening, and then there’s, you know, listening: “I don’t remember those exact words being spoken to me by Gen. Shinseki. I must confess I don’t remember those exact words being spoken to me, by Gen. Shi& he may have said it.” (The glitch in the transcript is ABC’s.)

Does he mind not having captured bin Laden? “And do I wish we had brought Osama bin Laden to justice, sure. But he’s not leading a lot of parades these days.” So that’s okay then.

In Afghanistan, Bush talked to some more troops.

HE’S THE MESSENGER-IN-CHIEF: “I had the honor of going to Fort Campbell the other day. I saw a lot of your comrades, and I saw a lot of your families. And they have a message for you: Air Assault!”

AFGHANS, IRAQIS, WHAT’S THE DIF? “And thanks to you, the Taliban has gone from power, the al Qaeda training camps are closed, and 25 million Iraqis are free.”

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH SIMPLER: “Removing the Taliban was a landmark achievement. But our work did not end there. See, we could have replaced one group of thugs with another strongman. ... It would have been so much simpler to say we got rid of one bunch and here’s another one.”

WHAT WE ARE MAKING: “And together with the determined people of Afghanistan, we are making hopeful gains.”

GEORGE IS DOWN WITH THE KIDS: “Thanks to you, girls are back in school across Afghanistan. Does that matter? I think it does. I think it does. Thanks to you, boys are playing soccer again, and flying kites, and learning to be Boy Scouts.” Um, the Boy Scouts, George?

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