Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I Thought "Negotiating With Yourself" Meant Something Else?

The President held a press conference yesterday, in which he managed not to confer with the press. He adroitly passed the buck to a number of underlings on a number of topics-
  • On Social Security: Now, the temptation is going to be, by well-meaning people such as yourself, John, and others here, as we run up to the issue to get me to negotiate with myself in public; to say, you know, what's this mean, Mr. President, what's that mean. I'm not going to do that. I don't get to write the law. I will propose a solution at the appropriate time, but the law will be written in the halls of Congress.... Don't bother to ask me. Or you can ask me. I shouldn't—I can't tell you what to ask. It's not the holiday spirit.
  • On Bernard Kerik: We've vetted a lot of people in this administration. We vetted people in the first, we're vetting people in the second term, and I've got great confidence in our vetting process. And so the lessons learned is [sic], continue to vet and ask good questions and get these candidates, the prospective nominees, to understand what we expect a candidate will face during a background check -- FBI background check, as well as congressional hearings.
  • On Rumsfeld (on personal offense at not having personally letters of condolence): Listen, I know how -- I know Secretary Rumsfeld's heart. I know how much he cares for the troops. He and his wife go out to Walter Reed in Bethesda all the time to provide comfort and solace. I have seen the anguish in his -- or heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq, and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way. And he is -- he's a good, decent man. He's a caring fellow. Sometimes perhaps is demeanor is rough and gruff, but beneath that rough and gruff, no-nonsense demeanor is a good human being who cares deeply about the military, and deeply about the grief that war causes.

What emerges from all this, of course, is the simple truth that the President doesn't like being called to the carpet. To a man who believes that disagreement is disloyalty, however, that should be self-evident. I am at a loss for words every time I see or hear this simpleton speak. And then I think of Churchill, who said that democracies get the governments they deserve.

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