March 20, 2005
Press conference of my dreamsBy Tim McNabb
In a press conference with President Bush the other day, several reporters put on display their nettlesome proclivities. The President is a classy man and did not respond to the nitwittery as it bloomed, but I can always dream about what I'd like him to say. What follows are real questions asked during the actual press conference, with my personal fantasy response from W, in italics.
REPORTER: Mr. President, you say you're making progress in the Social Security debate. Yet private accounts, as the centerpiece of that plan, something you first campaigned on five years ago and laid before the American people, remains, according to every measure we have, poll after poll, unpopular with a majority of Americans. So the question is, do you feel that this is a point in the debate where it's incumbent upon you, and nobody else, to lay out a plan to the American people for how you actually keep Social Security solvent for the long—term?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me ask you a question. The Washington Post just released a poll that asked Americans 'Would you support or oppose a plan in which people who chose to could invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market?' 56 percent said they would support such a plan, three percent had no opinion leaving 41 percent in opposition. In light of this, is your problem that you stop reading news after you hear what you want to believe, or is your education so substandard that you don't know that 56 percent constitutes a majority?
REPORTER: Uh, Mr. President I...
PRESIDENT BUSH: Sit down. Next.
REPORTER: Paul Wolfowitz, who was the —— a chief architect of one of the most unpopular wars in our history...is your choice to be the President of the World Bank. What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Ah, another opportunity to ask a question. Tell me, can you name a popular war? Were people happy to march off to France in WWI, or were they merely willing under the circumstances? How about the Civil War? Was that popular, or was it a matter of necessity?
REPORTER: I Uh...
PRESIDENT BUSH: War is about killing. War is only 'popular' if that's the right word, when it is quick and easy, and then only with the winners after the fact. No war is popular with the losers, or the loser's allies. Saddam is a loser, and he had a lot of bought and paid—for allies. Why should I give a tinker's damn about the popularity of the war. Further, the wisdom of war is judged by history, after it is over. This war is not over.
REPORTER: But Mr. Wolfowitz is a lightning rod...
PRESIDENT BUSH: Rephrase your question into one that reflects a little historical thoughtfulness and ask it another time.
REPORTER: Mr. Bush, I just...
PRESIDENT BUSH: That's President Bush, or Mr. President. Now sit down. Next:
REPORTER: Mr. President, your judicial nominees continue to run into problems on Capitol Hill. Republicans are discussing the possibility of ending the current Democratic filibuster practice against it. And Democrats yesterday, led by Minority Leader Harry Reid, went to the steps of the Capitol to say that if that goes forward, they will halt your agenda straight out. What does that say about your judicial nominees, the tone on Capitol Hill? And which is more important, judges or your agenda?
PRESIDENT BUSH: What it means is that A) my judicial nominees are unpopular with Washington Democrats and B) Washington Democrats are about as good at reading polls as the reporter who asked the first question, especially that really important poll last November. I'm not sure why you think the Democrats' inability to wake up and smell the coffee is somehow my fault, but I'll give you credit for asking the least idiotic question so far, though your lead is a slim one. Next?
REPORTER: Mr. President, back to Social Security, if I may. You said right at the top today that you urged members of Congress to go out and talk about the problem with their constituents... But also to talk about solutions. It's that part of it I want to ask about. Aren't you asking them to do something that you really haven't been willing to do yet?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Did you sit there all this time and not notice me spanking your colleagues for asking silly questions? Are you too thick to learn from the mistakes of others?
REPORTER: Well, Mr. President I...
PRESIDENT BUSH: I mean really, I fly to dozens of places all over the nation talking about Social Security with groups of Americans, and you ask me if I'm expecting others to do what I'm not doing? Where have you been?
REPORTER: I uh...
PRESIDENT BUSH: What did you do all last month, spend all you're spare trying to hit the monkey on a Yahoo News banner ad? Next month, try reading the stuff below the monkeys before you blow in here and show the nation that your uncle at the newspaper made a serious mistake in giving you a job.
VARIOUS REPORTERS: Mr. President, Mr. President...
PRESIDENT BUSH: Forget it. Press conference over. The rest of you need to school your colleagues on how to switch off the MoveOn.org implant before asking the President of the United States questions. Until then, I have serious work to do.
President Bush is much too nice a man to ever speak in such a dismissive way to the Fourth Estate. And the political price of such behavior would be high. But a guy can dream, can't he?