Thursday, June 15, 2006

An Insight Into Bush

By now, you've either read about or seen this exchange between President Bush and Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten:
Wallsten is, of course, blind.

But now, the rest of the story. In it, we find out two interesting tidbits about Bush, from which I'm going to draw conclusions:
Bush Apologizes to Times Reporter for Making Fun of His Sunglasses

Bush called on Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten and asked if he was going to ask his question with his "shades" on.

"For the viewers, there's no sun," Bush said to the television cameras.[...]

Wallsten said Bush called his cell phone later in the day to apologize and tell him that he didn't know he had the disease. Wallsten said he interrupted and told the president that no apology was necessary and that he didn't feel offended since he hadn't told anyone at the White House about his condition.

"He said, 'I needle you guys out of affection,"' Wallsten said. "I said, 'I understand that, but I don't want you to treat me any differently because of this."'[...]

Wallsten said he thought that was a pretty good line. And his only complaint is that the president didn't answer his question at the news conference.
Actually, three points to note about Bush.

1) Why did he feel the need to explain to the audience that it wasn't sunny? They were sitting right there, and even on camera, it's fairly obvious that it's not particularly sunny. (A side note: it does make what transpires even more ironically embarassing and nothing speaks to me of a strong nation than a jerk leading it.)

2) He called to apologize. Full marks for that. But you'll notice something else. "I needle you guys out of affection." I disagree. Bush needles out of a deep desire to bully people. He rationalizes this bullying by saying "But it's all in good fun!" And it well may be funny, but you know what? He's the president. They're reporters dependent on his good graces to do their job. This is a classic power imbalance and harassment situation. This entire administration has been based on bullying, whether it's reporters, Joseph Wilson, John Kerry, Iraq, Iran or what have you. If you are even POSSIBLE antagonists, this administration will do its level best to demolish you. And it starts at the top.

3) This point is reinforced by Wallsten's observation that Bush never answered his question. But this also speaks to the "Wimp Factor" that I posted about a little over a month ago. Bush really dislikes direct questions. Since the video doesn't not go that long, let's look at the transcript:
Q Following up on the other Peter's question about Karl Rove, you said that you were relieved with what happened yesterday. But the American public, over the course of this investigation, has learned a lot about what was going on in your White House that they didn't know before, during that time, the way some people were trying to go after Joe Wilson, in some ways. I'm wondering if, over the course of this investigation, that you have learned anything that you didn't know before about what was going on in your administration. And do you have any work to do to rebuild credibility that might have been lost?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that -- first of all, the decision by the prosecutor speaks for itself. He had a full investigation. Karl Rove went in front of the grand jury like -- I don't -- a lot of times. More times than -- they took a hard look at his role.

Secondly, as I told the other Peter, I'm going to tell you, that there's an ongoing trial, it's a serious business. And I've made the comments I'm going to make about this incident, and I'm going to put this part of the situation behind us and move forward.

Let's see here -- yes, sure. Richard.
Yup. He ducked a softball question, alright.

The wimp.

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