Tuesday, January 13, 2009

President Bush's Last Press Conference

Parochial, unrepentant, pugnacious, malingering, incoherent, but well-meaning to the last.

Defending his (in)action during Katrina, he said, "then your questions, I suspect, would have been, 'How could you possibly have flown Air Force One into Baton Rouge, and police officers that were needed to expedite traffic out of New Orleans were taken off the task to look after you?'" This president seriously thinks that action means appearing in public for a photo-op.

"You know, not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment, he also said. So he would rather have found WMDs in Iraq? This could have been an infelicity of language - and we know Bush has a penchant for them - but it is precisely moments like this that have lead Bush's critics to believe that he is an administration first, America second president. Call it what it is President Bush, you made mistake. You were complicit in creating the expectation that there were WMDs so that it is disingenuous that you register disappointment at their absence as if this were some god-given circumstance handed to you.

"Go to India and ask about, you know, America's -- their view of America. Go to China and ask," Bush said in disagreeing with the premise of a reporter's question that he had damaged America's standing in the world. Clueless, presumptous, and pugnacious to the end. Take a stand, assert it and don't bother to prove it - exactly what got Bush into trouble with practically every mishap in his presidency.

Continuing on this tone in his press conference, he got fiesty again on Katrina: "But when I hear people say the federal response was slow, then what are they going to say to those chopper drivers or the 30,000 that got pulled off the roofs?" Yes, use the chopper drivers and the Katrina victims as a human shield against political accountability. Perhaps Bush ain't so different from his frenemies in the Middle East.

When asked why the tone and rhetoric got out of hand, he quipped, "I don't know why. You need to ask those who -- those who used the words they used." Yet just earlier on, Bush had admitted that "Obviously, some of my rhetoric has been a mistake." President Bush is so indifferent to the fundamental law of consistency that is the necessary condition for truthfulness that his critics can hardly be blamed for accusing him of lacking integrity.

So these are the best words in his press conference: "But I wish him (Barack Obama) all the best. And people say, 'Oh, that's just a throwaway line.' No. It's not a throwaway line. The stakes are high. There is an enemy that still is out there." Terrible, but well-meaning president, Goodbye!


Colin Koproske said...

Indeed. Eloquently and powerfully stated Prof. Lim! I can't think of any address or press conference in his 8 years in office during which I was not incredibly frustrated. Just imagine how career diplomats and policy advisers feel when they have to brief him.

Anonymous said...

And yet Katrina and Iraq, as embarrassing as they were, are minor errors compared to the disaster of the economy- a disaster which far better men than Bush failed to see coming, and a disaster that perhaps would have happened even under the most enlightened possible fiscal and foreign policy.