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June 14, 2006

Presidential Oops

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To the folks sending the e-mails, yes, I heard about the presidential faux pas today with Dubya joshing a reporter about his sunglasses, not knowing the reporter was legally blind. Yes, it's an oopsie. No, I don't particularly care. Nor do I think it's yet another example of Bush's inhumanity to man, or whatever. Apparently Dubya didn't know, because the reporter had never made a big deal out of it (he wears the sunglasses to help prevent macular degeneration or some such). And in any event the president did the right thing by calling the reporter and apologizing. Done, taken care of, move on.

I mean, yes, I can understand why all y'all might think this sort of thing is something I'd giggle about like a schoolgirl. But you know, I do try to base my dislike of the president on genuine political and policy issues rather on him making a goof. Sometimes I fail in the noble quest. But not this time. Or to put it another way, if the reporter in question doesn't seem to have been notably offended by the president's hijinx, I'm not entirely sure why I should be.

Posted by john at June 14, 2006 10:31 PM

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Comments

Steve | June 14, 2006 11:33 PM

Well said!

Lisa | June 15, 2006 01:59 AM

As probably your only blind commenter (?) I'll give you some street cred on this one. I don't think it is a big deal, either. I've had people who didn't know me say stuff like this because they didn't know of my vision loss, and as long as they are respectful about it once they are told, no biggie.

Bush did say some stupid comment to a guy who uses a wheelchair a few weeks ago. Something about how it must be nice to sit there when everyone else was standing. I think that was kind of annoying in the "gee, never heard that one before" kind of way, but a minor thing to get upset about in light of all the other policy related crap he throws against the disabled.

Wonky Muse | June 15, 2006 05:46 AM

What's notable about this whole exchange is not so much that he unknowingly chided a blind man about keeping his sunglasses on but for the jocular yet condescending way he said it. As with the man in the wheelchair, it's his not so subtle attempt to pull rank and humiliate someone whom he feels doesn't give him due respect as POTUS.

In the same vein, he jokes around with reporters during conferences, rubs bald men's heads, throws pointed barbs in the guise of humor. Totally inappropriate in that "I can do whatever I damn well please, I'm the POTUS" kind of way.

Bill Marcy | June 15, 2006 07:25 AM

Your not acting in accordance within the Bush Derangement Syndrome guidelines.

Anytime the man acts like a human and messes up in someway, you are supposed to pile on him like a drunken rugby scrum.

I mean, I heard Michael Moore is in negotiations to make a movie about the poor blind guys ordeal.

No MIchael Moore, there is a dude who gets BDS. I hear John Kerry is going to be playing the blind reporter, and is already working with a voice coach (who earned 4 silver stars in Vietnam I may add!), to lose the nasal whine we all so love and admire.

Ahhh, I love a slow news day.

John H | June 15, 2006 08:42 AM

Bill Marcy:

If there is such a thing as 'Bush Derangement Syndrome', it's no less contagious than 'Clinton Derangement Syndrome'. I can only hope that BDS isn't as chronic a condition as CDS appears to be...

MinstrelOfFunk | June 15, 2006 10:26 AM

Is it just me or does that reporter look like Cosmo Kramer?

John Scalzi | June 15, 2006 11:11 AM

It's the glasses.

Tripp | June 15, 2006 11:58 AM

Oh pish tush.

This incident was delicious for two reasons.

First and foremost, it was an example of someone with a condescending sneer being taken down a notch. Second, did you ever in your whole life think that a Presidential exchange would mirror a Pink Panther movie? Google "Peter Sellers 'Are you blind'" for an explanation.

If you want to call what Bush did "acting like a human" then you must hang around with more pompous asses than I do.

alkali | June 15, 2006 01:03 PM

I don't like W. for many reasons but I agree with the proprietor on this one.

Here, in solidarity with the President, is my own personal idiotic-thinking-as-regards-disability story:

You can tell something about someone's emotional state by their gait: someone who sort of shuffles along might be depressed; someone who walks briskly might be feeling energetic. It occurred to me just last year that when I see people who get around in motorized carts moving around at a rapid clip, I had been thinking, "Hey, that person's in a great mood." Which, of course, is idiotic.

Annalee Flower Horne | June 15, 2006 01:23 PM

Good on you.

I'm not exactly the president's biggest fan and never have been (I cried myself to sleep the night he got re-elected), but he is a human being, and dems treating him like a lower form of life at every turn isn't exactly winning us street cred.

Am I going to criticize him for getting us into Gulf Wars Episode II: The Phantom Weapons without anything resembling an exit strategy? Heck yes. But for making an assanine comment? No. The reporter didn't care; he was man enough to apologize; everyone on the planet has said said something accidentally insensitive at some point in their life. There are far better reasons to question his leadership.

Bill Marcy | June 15, 2006 01:42 PM

Annalee: Did you ever stop to think that maybe we have not been told of the WMD, as it may not have served our atrategic interests?

Just as with children who stamp their feet and hold their breath when they don't get a cookie, we, the citizens of these United States elect representitives to make decisions in our stead, and one of those decisions jsut might have been about keeping word of said WMD's from the populace at large.

Of course, YMMV. .

John Scalzi | June 15, 2006 01:45 PM

"Did you ever stop to think that maybe we have not been told of the WMD, as it may not have served our atrategic interests?"

They don't tell us about the flying robot pirate monkeys on the moon, either. Because it would totally blow our minds.

Jon Marcus | June 15, 2006 02:32 PM

I may be paraphrasing John here, but Bill can you give us any reasonable hypothetical that goes from "We know Iraq has WMDs, we know where and what they are," to "Nope, no WMDs here, sorry."

I mean for years, they openly discussed details of suspected WMDs, and even phantasms such as "WMD-related program activities." Why now would they needlessly destroy their own political credibility (not to mention the credibility of the United States) if there really were WMDs in Iraq.

I can't believe this is still a topic of debate, but Cong. Curt Weldon (R-PA) claimed just last week that "the jury is still out on WMDs."

Adam Rakunas | June 15, 2006 02:58 PM

Do not engage troll, do not engage troll, do not--

Ah, to hell with it.

Just as with children who stamp their feet and hold their breath when they don't get a cookie, we, the citizens of these United States elect representitives to make decisions in our stead, and one of those decisions jsut might have been about keeping word of said WMD's from the populace at large.

What a galloping load of horseshit. First, comparing American citizens who expect some accountability from their elected representatives to children asking for cookies is a false comparison. It's also an excellent illustration of the Blind Bush Supporter Syndrome: everything the Bush Administration does is for our own good because they're the responsible grown-ups who are here to clean up the filthy mess in the White House that those Clintons left behind. Everything Daddy does is right because he's Daddy.

Second, what kind of strategic interests are there in withholding info about WMDs? Is the President afraid that the flying robot pirate monkeys will swoop down from the Moon and scoop up all the ricin and mustard gas and nukes and fly around the world, waging bloody war against mankind? The insurgents are already wreaking enough havoc with all of the explosives and regular ordnance they looted from weapons depots that weren't secured during the initial invasion because the rocket surgeons who planned the war didn't plan for the occupation and reconstruction.

If I've contracted BDS, it's because I can see the disconnect between the Bush Administration's reputation as pragmatic, competant people who live in the Real World and the bloody quagmire they've created as a result of their fantasies about reshaping the world.

Adam Rakunas | June 15, 2006 03:07 PM

But I am glad the President apologized. Good on him.

John H | June 15, 2006 03:15 PM

Yeah, Bill - I don't think your argument is going to cut it. They aren't telling us about the WMD's for our own good? Oh, please...

Bill Marcy | June 15, 2006 03:29 PM

Adam, I can only say, I am rather happy that you weren't around for WWII, that whole secrecy thing during the Manhattan Project would have set you off, no?

It may very well be in our strategic interests not to allow knowledge of where said WMD's might have gotten themselves to, as the people with whom they may be with, right now, might be an ally of ours in other theatres. Of course, they may not have been WMD's, you can beleive that also, but you don't have a right to know.

Scorpio | June 15, 2006 03:45 PM

I'm also with Our Host on this. I often wait quite a bit to address some particular thing that looks like a goof. And often, the story is out of proportion, wrong, or just Not My Business, a concept thrown into disrepute by Ken Starr, and that needs to be revived, desperately!

As we see Whiners on the right, so we have our own PC Pack that could use some decent muzzling.

If the reporter says it's ok, what's the Pack's problem?

John Scalzi | June 15, 2006 03:50 PM

This whole "maybe they're hiding the WMD for strategic reasons" line is fascinating, to be sure. You can see why the Bush administration, which hinged its argument on attacking Iraq on WMD, declared that we knew where they were, and went to the UN to show evidence of the WMD program, would totally turn around and hide their single largest justification for what is now a massively unpopular war -- unpopular, among other things, because the reasons we ostensibly went to war are not in evidence. Yes! It's the perfect plan!

Of course, I know why we're hiding the WMDs. Because we gave them to the flying robot pirate monkeys. On the moon. I would tell you more, but you don't have a right to know. Also, the flying robot pirate monkeys wouldn't like it. And you know how they get.

I do suggest, however, that we don't spend a whole lot of time discussing scenarios that make absolutely not a single goddamned bit of sense, whether they relate to WMDs hidden under the State Secrecy Act, or airborne mechanical freebooting primates. Just a thought.

Bill Marcy | June 15, 2006 03:53 PM

John,

You seem certain that this is an unpopular war, but I woudl disagree with you, while the echo chamber that you particpate in, it may very well be unpopular, but I have yet to hear overwhelming dissent. Again, YMMV.

Adam Rakunas | June 15, 2006 03:56 PM

Bill-

Next time, why not just come out and call me a traitor? No need to pussyfoot, especially since you wield subtlety like a two-year-old with a supercharged chainsaw.

Again with the false comparisons. Asking about information about Iraq's WMDs is not the same as asking about info about my government's secret weapons programs. Is this the best you've got?

Bill Marcy | June 15, 2006 04:03 PM

Adam, Traitor? I don't know you at all, why would i do that? You seem to think that you have a right to information that is way outside of your domain. When you don't get that information, you make assumptions that are wild at best. , how about you label yourself, any way you please?

Best I got? I didn't know we were at that point yet.

I mean, I can really understand, after 8 years of lying, a distrust in governemnt, I really can. We woudl be fools not to have a healthy distrust of governemnt after Clinton, but the rational thing to do is to take each administration on its own merits. Again, YMMV.

Adam Rakunas | June 15, 2006 04:07 PM

Re: the echo chamber about the war being unpopular. Gallup poll from June 13:

Americans, by a 51% to 46% margin, are still inclined to believe the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq.

Not overwhelming dissent, but not overwhelming support, either.

Adam Rakunas | June 15, 2006 04:10 PM

Now I remember why I don't engage trolls on the internet: it's just like repeatedly smacking your head against a brick wall, only less fun.

Flying robot space monkeys, take me awaaaaaaaaaaay!

John Scalzi | June 15, 2006 04:10 PM

Bill:

"You seem certain that this is an unpopular war, but I woudl disagree with you, while the echo chamber that you particpate in, it may very well be unpopular, but I have yet to hear overwhelming dissent."

Oh, Bill. Please pull your head out. Only about a third of Americans approve of the way George Bush is handling the War in Iraq, and that's across multiple recent polls. Over half think it was a mistake to attack Iraq in the first place. My "echo chamber" encompasses about 200 million Americans. It's not a "your mileage may vary" sort of thing. When more than half the nation regrets starting a war and two thirds think the president is doing an awful job deal with it, it's objectively an unpopular war.

Bill Marcy | June 15, 2006 04:15 PM

John, what were the poll numbers on WWII? Or maybe even WWI (I assume we are in a world war right now, so I use them).

I gather also, you feel that a war ought to be fought according to a poll?

Or maybe our foreign policy ought to be conducted according to polls? (Sorta like how Somalia was handled?)

Again, while your polls may show those numbers, I have little faith in them, do you hold enough faith in them to bet your families life on them?

John Scalzi | June 15, 2006 04:38 PM

Bill:

"John, what were the poll numbers on WWII?"

I haven't the slightest idea. Moreover it has no relevance regarding whether this war is popular.

"I gather also, you feel that a war ought to be fought according to a poll?"

If you gather that, it's because you're an idiot, as I've said nothing of the sort. You are the one who said you weren't aware of this war being unpopular. I provided you with the data to back it up. My position on this war is neither here nor there in regard to that.

"Again, while your polls may show those numbers, I have little faith in them."

Ah, I see. The polls don't conform to what you think reality should be, they become my polls (although of course I didn't commission them or have any part in collecting the information), and you choose not to have "faith" in them.

Well, you go on being completely ignorant of modern statistical sampling if you like, Bill. I'll just lump you in with all the other people who are happy to use "faith" as an excuse to ignore reality, and treat your opinions on the matter accordingly.

At least now I see why you're under the impression this is not an unpopular war: Because you choose not to waste any of your beautiful mind on anything you don't want to hear.

Steve Brady | June 15, 2006 04:56 PM

I was more concerned that Bush didn't know how many times that Rove had appeared before the grand jury.

I like to think that's something I'd know about one of my top employees.

Ted | June 15, 2006 05:09 PM

Bill,
My personal theory is that this entire "War on Iraq" is an elaborate ploy by the Bush administration undertaken for the safety of the republic. The soldiers are on all expenses paid vacations in the Pacific Islands learning what lies to tell when they return, and all the war dead are really just living in a remote part of South America until it's safe for the public to know the truth.

David Huff | June 15, 2006 05:30 PM

Ted wrote, "My personal theory is that this entire "War on Iraq" is an elaborate ploy..."

Heh. Yeah, and we "don't need to know" 'cause it "may not have served our strategic interest" for us to know. Like in WWII... Yeah, that's it, that's the ticket. ;->

Lisa | June 15, 2006 07:14 PM

You know, my in-laws who are all ex and/or career marines use this line about Maybe The Government is Witholding X for Our Own Good line all the time. I don't mean to generalize, but is that some crack of shit they teach these poor military guys in the brainwashing, er I mean training period? I do respect our troops and the tough job they are doing, but it does seem like I hear this line a lot from military types.

And I always think, if that IS the case, if the gov is the all knowing and and protecting of us...wouldn't they be doing a better JOB???? Wouldn't the PR be better (at least more credible) than it is? I just don't by it.

And as far as the Manhattan Project, of course I agree that the specifics should have been classified, but a little public discourse about building THAT WMD might have done us all a lot of good.

Back to the blind dude, I think what bothers me more about this story than the faux pas itself (which noted above does not bother me much) is the relationship between W and 'his' press corps. The journalists seem happy to get a bit of 'needling' because it means their in the W ole boys club. Now that is the real problem.

Tim | June 15, 2006 11:25 PM

Bill,

I'm much more willing to agree with position simply because I've followed the war very closely and so much of the reporting, especially regarding WMD, has made no sense to me.

Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, it was reported that allied forces had discovered a failed IED which was at least partially constructed with a nerve gas artillery shell. That information was disturbing in two ways, first, no one sets up a manufacturing facility for steel artillery shells to machine a dozen, or a hundred, or even a thousand; they set it up to manufacture them by the thousands, so there must be a lot more of them somewhere. Secondly, these nerve gas shells were so purely secured that at least one had fallen into the hands of a militant that wasn't even competent enough to assemble a bomb that succesfully explodes.

This dovetailed with reports that Iraqi generals that were interviewed following the fall of Baghdad, reported that they had had chemical weapon artillery shells in their inventory until abount two weeks before we invaded, and that Saddam himself through the Iraqi Intelligence removed all their WMD weapons to his own control.

Many months later it was reported in at least a couple of newspapers that US and Jordanian Intelligence had managed to circumvent an al Qaeda attack against Amman, Jordan. The stories reported that the attackers had attempted to blow up a large truck with hundreds or thousands of pounds of VX gas, and that, if successful, the attack could have killed as many as 80,000. According to one report, the containers could be traced through Syria to Iraq. The last sentence of one of the reports said essentially (I'm paraphrasing here). The Bush administration is trying to downplay this report.

That last part was most inexplicable of the whole thing. If concrete evidence of massive amounts of chemical WMD from Iraq was discovered, why would the Bush administration want that info suppressed? (BTW I haven't seen any follow up reporting on the incident or even corrections).

I can thing of all kinds of reasons why we don't know more about this stuff. The intelligence community and the military tend to classify just about anything having to do with any kind of WMD. In the instance of the Jordanian attack, the administration might have seen some more valuable strategic or diplomatic benefit in not embarrassing the Jordanians or the Syrians. Or it could be something much more simply and politically Machiavellian (or should I say Rovian), like having lots of moonbats out there screaming "Bush Lied! People Died!" drives more of the overwhelming center to support the administration.

Euan | June 16, 2006 12:41 AM

"Again, ... do you hold enough faith in them to bet your families life on them?"

Can someone explain what this means? I'd really like to know. Please?

Tim | June 16, 2006 12:42 AM

Lisa,

When your in the military the amount of stuff and the kinds of stuff that the military classifies seems absolutely ridiculous. However, occasionally if you take the time and effort to find out why something is classified (and it's often not easy because the reason something is classified is also classified), you find it makes perfect sense.

As an example, when I was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, each day I had to stand duty I would have to make a run to the Naval Message Center if our command received any classified messages. The killer about it was that we received at least one 'SECRET' message every night, because the evening weather report was classified as 'SECRET'.

What was annoying about this is that the message center was a 15 mile round trip and with speed limits and conditions on base this trip would take around 30 minutes. You can imagine the irony one feels when you have to make a 30 minute trip through pouring rain in an open jeep in order to pick up nothing but a weather report. After just such an annoying trip, I returned and reported to the Officer of the Day that it was just the weather report and added, "Why do they have to classify the $%%^%$ weather report, sir?". The officer was an amiable young lieutenant, who had obviously shared the same frustration some time earlier. He took pity on me and spent the next ten minutes explaining not only what was classified on the weather report, but also the extended story of why (the much more interesting story). When you knew the reasoning behind it, it all made perfect sense. I never complained about it again.

Annalee Flower Horne | June 16, 2006 03:14 AM

...wow, John, sorry for starting a shitfest. And to think that was me actually trying to say something nice about the guy.

I can see where Bush might have honestly believed there were WMDs in Iraq, though. I mean, he probably came across the sales receipts in his daddy's old files.

(because no one's heard that joke before).

Tripp | June 16, 2006 10:23 AM

Have you people actually seen the footage of the incident?

Bush didn't simply 'make a mistake' and apologize. He was his usual boorish and sneering self with a captive audience who don't dare complain and for once he was caught at it.

Bush is a master of the put-down under the guise of 'just teasing' and 'being one of the guys.' I swear if he met Stephen Hawking he'd probably call him 'wheels' to his face and mock his speech behind his back.

Lisa | June 16, 2006 12:11 PM

Tim,

Your whole comment cracked me up! I was waiting for the rational explanation of driving through the rain to deliver the classified weather report...but then you didn't tell us why.

Oh, yeah. It's classified.

Brian Greenberg | June 16, 2006 01:30 PM

John - props to you for cutting the President a break. And props to the President for admitting he made a mistake and apologizing for it (something he's been criticized for not doing in the past...)

As for the WMD crowd: the sum total of the evidence suggests to me that we legitimately thought we knew they had WMD's and we legitimately thought we knew where they were (as did England, as did Russia, as did the UN, etc., etc.)

It also seems to me that the administration is scared sh*tless about admitting it was wrong about this, even to the point of being called liars about it. Why are they so scared? I have no idea. Some may say it's because of the hysterical commentary on the topic evidenced in this thread (although others have been much more harsh). I hope that's not the case, but you never know...

Tim | June 16, 2006 02:00 PM

Lisa,

Now your catching on!

Clearmoon | June 17, 2006 02:21 PM

This is a perfect illustration of both what the Founding Fathers intended NOT TO happen, when they set up our representative republic. (See if you can follow all of this, before you procede to flame me.)

1. Here we have several obviously vocal members of the (presumably) voting public.

2. We have a vigorous debate over the ideas and issues of the day. (NOTE: The Founding Fathers DID intend this part.)

3. Several of the participants in the debate do not even have a grasp of the English language, let alone modern global politics.

4. Allowing people to vote and help decide issues such as this, who don't even understand the difference between there, their, and they're is WRONG. Not understanding history as it relates to current and potential future events ("What does WWI or WWII have to do with this?") FURTHER disqualifies you from even having an opinion, much less exercising it at the ballot box.

If you couldn't be bothered to pay attention and learn something in school, what makes you think you get to help decide the direction of our country now?

darren | June 19, 2006 01:05 PM

"Again, ... do you hold enough faith in them to bet your families life on them?"

Can someone explain what this means? I'd really like to know. Please?"'

It's a pretty common fallacious arguement. Along the lines of; If you're against warrantless wiretapping then you must want a suicide bomber to strap himself to your three small children and Golden Retriever puppy and detonate.

BTW, How did a thread starting out that it isn't a surprise or big deal that the idiot in chief did something no less stupid than ever, but at least not damaging to national security turn into a WMD debate? And Bill, WTF is YMMV?

And Tim, I don't have perfect grammar so take this in that spirit it is intended, but it's you're for you are, not your.

darren | June 19, 2006 01:12 PM

I honestly didn't read clearmoon's post before I wrote mine. Not trying to pile on you Tim. But it is a good point he's got THEIR.

Josh | June 20, 2006 12:00 AM

Oh yeah Clearmoon, I could see the infallible logic behind your interpretation of the founding fathers' motives. Obviously they were worried about what might happen if people known for occassionally making grammatical or spelling mistakes in hastily typed out comments on a blog had their opinion taken into consideration by an administration whose leader barely had passing grades in college and who insists it's Nukular. I'm sure they anticipated the existance of both.

I would like to point out that argueing against other people based soully on the quality of their grammar in a medium reknowned for enabling such mistakes (Just look at the typos in some of John's posts. He is a professional writer, obviously with some grasp of the language otherwise I suspect he wouldn't be that successful, and yet he is prone to mistakes as well) neither refutes the actual content of their posts, nor really does anything at all but make you look like a nit picking ass.

Now I am not a scholar who has dedicated any advanced study to the founding fathers and their motives, nor do I study historical law, but it seems clear to me that the founding fathers also intended that their be accountability of the representives within our representitive republic. The reason people hate Bush, the reason they bring up WMDs and accuse him of lying, and the reason they look for any opportunity to bash him even if it was simply a faux pa directed at a blind man he didn't know was blind, is because he has utter disregard for accountability.

If I had to chose between a system where people who can't differentiate between there, their, and they're have some influence over the government and policies (and I seem to accept that ignorant hate mongering christian coalition members can vote to determine who sits in congress, which is much worse then mistaking proper word usage) or a system where our leader garners ever increasing power without any apparent accountability for the power I am going to chose the former.

Also, comparrisons to WWII and Iraq are asinine at best, and anyone who makes them to defend Iraq seems to be fairly ignorant of history. They are two different beasts entirely. Since you seem to think that people who don't grasp a bullshit relationship between the two don't qualify to have their opinion count in governement I feel justified feeling that your utter misinterpretation of that particular history disqualifies you from speaking on the motives of the founding fathers (well that, and you seem to be a staunch bush hugger, which would be fairly hard to be while being knowledgable and agreeable towards the opinions of our founding fathers. TJ, Franklin and Maddison seemed to have some pretty "leftist" views on freedom vs. security).

Tim | June 20, 2006 10:27 AM

Hey,

If that's your best argument against my positions; that I missused the verbs of being; feel free. My defense is, that when I made these arguments, I was drunk. What's your excuse?

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