Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bush faces hostile crowd in Cleveland

I am now officially less intelligent than I was earlier in the evening, because I read the transcript of Bush's latest speech and the follow-up questions from the audience.

I can easily summarize Bush's speech: Progress! Tal Afar! It won't convince anyone who doesn't already worship him as the emperor.

Strikingly, no major Ohio politician appeared with Bush onstage. Their excuses were ludicrous:
When a president's popularity plummets as Bush's has, other politicians often avoid public appearances with them. Prominent Ohio Republicans including Sen. Mike DeWine, Sen. George Voinovich and Rep. Steve LaTourette say they're skipping Bush's speech because of prior commitments. DeWine is visiting his convalescing father in Florida and accompanying him to spring training baseball games. LaTourette previously scheduled a staff retreat in Washington. Voinovich has meetings in Washington that he couldn't reschedule. Gov. Bob Taft, whose popularity is even lower than Bush's, isn't expected to attend, either. Taft noted that he attended Bush's speech last month outside Columbus, as did Voinovich. Today's event isn't on the schedules of either Jim Petro or Ken Blackwell, the GOP candidates to replace Taft, their spokesmen said.
Unfortunately, no excuses like "I will be washing my hair that evening" were proffered. Still, you can't mistake these signs. When folks ranging from the opportunistic Ken Blackwell to the nearly catatonic Jessica Simpson do not want to hang out with the president, we must diagnose a major case of Presidential Cooties.

It is not just the professionals who have had it with Bush. The questions from the audience were striking. They were phrased in superficially respectful ways, yet there was a deep undercurrent of distrust and even hatred in the questions.

Despite the hostile atmosphere, Bush did an excellent job of running out the clock, with long, meandering answers even to straightforward, yes-or-no questions. He managed to limit the damage to just seven questions —— the boy has some tap-dancing skills still (if only every ex-junky alcoholic could bring their A-game like Bush does).

Here is how I would paraphrase each question:
  1. Are Iraq and terrorism signs of the apocalypse?
  2. You lied about reasons for the Iraq war. Will you ever tell the truth?
  3. We love you. How can we help you promote freedom?
  4. My son's a Marine. Is Iraq like a honeycomb where we can draw in al Qaida?
  5. This war is so expensive, how can this generation afford college?
  6. How can you possibly deal with terrorist-harboring countries like Pakistan?
  7. How is Iran different from Iraq?
Questions 1, 2, 5, 6 are openly negative: superficially polite, but with an undercurrent of "you lying son-of-a-bitch."

Questions 7 is probably hostile. However, he was friendly before the meat of the question, and there are no guide words in his neutral-sounding question.

Question 3 & 4 are relatively friendly, although both questioners seemed mildly demented. #3 rambled on about his private charity connections, and #4 volunteered before her actual question that she did not raise her son, an enlisted Marine, to be a terrorist. Ok! You go, girl!

These numbers (28% supportive) loosely match his standing in the national polls. Mere coincidence? Or was it science?


Anonymous rle said...

There was recently a show on NPR this morning about the GOP in Ohio. Thanks to the multitude of scandals, the Republicans are looking pretty toasted. Let's keep our fingers crossed that they don't clean up their act before November. And I hope Bush keeps visiting the Buckeye state.

Tuesday, 21 March, 2006  

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