Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

Recently, President Bush held only his third prime time press conference. The purpose of the spectacle was to quell public concern and discount mounting death tolls in Iraq. The administration has shown great disdain towards disseminating knowledge and is regarded by even conservative analysts as the most secretive executive incumbency in decades. However, the arrival of an election season has forced the White House to deviate from their normal mundane script. Had it not been an election year, they would have preferred speeches at the Heritage Foundation or vacationing in Crawford.The conference was a display of poor showmanship. The White House theater did little to enhance the drawn-out, substanceless prepared statement. The only meaningful conclusion the speech drew was a plea for patience and continued moral support (not financial support, as taxes are akin to socialism or some such absurdity) while Americans are at best suffering, and at worst perishing in Iraq.

During the questions segment the President’s weaknesses were exposed. It is not a minority belief that Mr. Bush is one of the most inarticulate Presidents in modern history, but his inability or unwillingness to answer questions was alarming. Remember, America is a representative republic and those elected officials are meant to answer to the people. Secrecy, misinformation, and ignorance have no place in the political arena of a true republic. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush feels that answering questions from the press, the unidentified fourth branch of government, is not a requisite of public service but a tool for political gain. When convenient, the press is utilized, otherwise they are disregarded as mere antagonists. How long would this President last in a parliamentary government, answering weekly to a hostile legislative body?

One question the President outrightly refused to answer concerned his meeting with the 9/11 commission. Why must he meet with the commission accompanied by Dick Cheney rather than alone as the commission had requested? His unwillingness to answer questions about his Presidential duties without Dick Cheney speaks volumes of his character and/or knowledge of his own duties. Did Bill Clinton require Al Gore to be present when he defended himself during the impeachment trial? No, and nor should he have; he was not a minor.

Bill O’Reilly, the most popular televised conservative pundit, acknowledged Bush’s failure to answer the question but defended the president on the grounds that if he and Cheney were to testify separately and any disparity between their answers discovered that the “liberal partisans” on the commission would illegally leak the secret testimonies to “the liberal media” in an attempt to ruin Bush.

I think it is interesting that if such a disparity between the president and vice president’s remembrance of 9/11 differed remarkably that O’Reilly would not question why such a difference existed but rather attack the commission and “the liberal media” for something they did not and could not do.

If Bush and Cheney have different stories I want to know both. Who is being honest and who dishonest? O’Reilly is only concerned for the president’s media image and his re-election chances next autumn. It is just another example of the servile media protecting presidential incompetence.

Concerning Iraq, Bush once again was deceitful and aloof. He marginalized the deaths of Americans and reduced the near civil war to the same terms used to describe school gangs. He once again insured the world that governmental control of Iraq would be transferred on June 30, though to whom is more of a mystery. What was Karl Rove thinking putting George Bush before a live camera? Also, and most tragically, he once again defended the invasion of Iraq with the line they “refused to disarm.” Disarm what? Though he quietly acknowledges the nonexistence of WMD’s, Bush continues to use underhanded and deceitful statements to mislead elements of the uninformed populace.

Additionally, when questioned about the FBI, Bush once responded, “we are an instrument of God to deliver freedom to the people of the world.” What does that mean exactly? Does he know what the FBI is? It sounds like something Pope Urban II would have proclaimed during the first crusades in the 11th century. It is not hard to accept the notion that Middle Eastern Muslims see Bush as a Christian warrior. Anyone who claims that America, and its militaristic ability to kill more foreigners in a split second than any nation in history, is an “instrument of God” has a conflicted view of religion. However, the number of innocent heaven-bound Iraqis, freed by God’s “instrument,” has recently exceeded 10 thousand.

The worst aspect of the conference was Bush’s inability to admit any hint of fallacy. When asked what mistake he most regrets he failed to remember, or acknowledge, any error his administration has ever made. I was unaware that infallibility was possible, let alone existing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (or a 1,600 acre ranch in Crawford, Texas depending on the day of the week). The vainglory of this administration is monarchial at times.

I realize that Mr. Bush is not the most capable public speaker; he once referred to his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, as his “Secretary of State.” And I certainly understand that from a political viewpoint, the White House would rather keep the president behind a closed door or on his Texas ranch where he seems most comfortable. But the president has to answer for his actions more often. Presidents cannot be immune from responsibility, it is the unfavorable duty of power which they must assume.

Bill Casto is a senior and studying literature with a minor in history.

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