Wednesday, March 22, 2006

President Bush seeks approval..and misses badly

President Bush has taken some uncharacteristic steps to attempt to shore up support for the war in Iraq and reverse his sagging approval ratings. Some of you may have seen my take on what Bush needs to do to come back.

Unfortunately, he appears to be going about it in the wrong way in my view. Rather than providing leadership by eliminating the hypocrisy of the administration's stance towards certain Sunni Arab autocracies like the Saudis or working on controlling America's borders, the President has attempted to finesse things with public relations.

The President has actually been engaging in press conferences, touring the country and even indulging in unscreened Q&A sessions. All well and good, on the face of it. But the following two exchanges illustrate why this isn't helping restore his credibility...and illustrates, to me, part of what has been wrong with Bush's presidency from day one.

The first one involved the president calling on AP reporter Helen Thomas in a press conference, something Bush hadn't done in quite some time and with good reason, considering her rudeness, harsh partisanship and generally insulting behavior towards him. Ms. Thomas, of course, started out by grossly insulting him asking `why did you really want to go to war'Press Conference of the President and harrumphing and interrupting him during his answer, to the point where President Bush had to say `excuse me' several times and attempt to finish.

Unfortunately, this illustrates a major fault of the administration..the constant attempts to be all things to all people and to waste valuable time and effort to try to please political enemies when no concilliation is possible.

A good example of this was the president's futile attempt to get a second resolution out of the UN before the invasion of Iraq, done at the urgent request of Britain's Tony Blair to mollify the massive protests among the anti-war faction in Blair's Labour Party in Britain and their political soulmates in America.

Bush had to know that given the Oil For Food scandal, this was a total waste of effort. But he persisted anyway, in an effort to appear well meaning and consensus minded. And that 15 month delay gave Saddam all the time he needed to make arrangements for the bloody guerilla war that persists to this day, to make arrangements with terrorists like Zarqawi who already had free range of the country and to hide or sell any WMDs Saddam had on hand.

Had the president rapidly deployed our forces with the authority already given to him by congress, things might be considerably different in Iraq today.

The president thought that by extending courtesy to Ms. Thomas, he would appear more `statesmanlike' and that his courtesy would be reciprocated. It wasn't, it won't be, and he merely came across as fumbling and fawning, having to talk over a mediocre hack journalist and make jokes about Gridiron Dinner routines.

When you try and please everyone, you usually end up pleasing no one.

A second example of how rattled the president has become was an exchange between him and a fellow citizen during one of those unstructured Q & A sessions in Ohio.

To paraphrase, the man essentially said "we were told that Saddam had WMD's, that he was trying to buy nuclear material, that he was financing the terrorists who were behind 9/11 and that he was a threat to us. All that stuff turned out to be false. What are you doing to get better intelligence?"

Did the president hit that one out of the park? Did he respectfully disagree with this man's contentions? Did he remind him that every major intel service in the world had reports on Saddam's attempt to buy nuclear materials, that Saddam had high level delegations in Niger and that the British Butler Commission had validated their reports on Saddam's attempts to buy nuclear materials? Did he mention Saddam's connections with al Qaeda terrorists like Imad Mugniyeh and Abu-Musab Zarqawi or go into the Able/Danger reports on Iraqi contacts with Mohammed Atta and the 9/11 hijackers? (Yes, I know why Bush wouldn't want to discuss Able/Danger..*sigh*)Mention the Sal Pak training grounds outside Baghdad with the 747 mockups? Did he even say something along the lines of the fact that he was the prsident and that it was his job to make this call based on what intel was at hand? Did he even throw in a zinger saying that better intel was what the NSA wiretaps were all about?

What he did was to let these contentions go unchallenged and go into a long, rambling answer about how John Negroponte and others were putting together a report!

The president merely appeared tired and dissembling. Whoever set up this little junket, in the words of Ricky Ricardo has got some `splainin' to do, babalu.

I'll say it one more time; instead of trying to PR the American public, Bush needs to level with them and start fighting the war he was elected to fight. Action is called for, and spin is decidedly unwelcome.

Deal with the people that are exporting jihad to America, secure our borders here at home and Iraq's borders in the war zone, and deal decisively with Iran instead of futilely grinding the wheels and wasting time at the UN as you did before, Mr. President.

Do the right thing. I guarantee you your approval ratings will take care of themselves.


Dan Zaremba said...

...the constant attempts to be all things to all people and to waste valuable time and effort to try to please political enemies
So right.
And in the end you lose your friend and your enemies remain your enemies.

Anonymous said...

If only Bush would point out the hypcrisy and cowardice and lack of values in his journo opponeents. Why can't simply tell them they are discrimintory, intolerant and not open to dialogue? To their faces?In public?

Freedom Fighter said...

I agree, Skylark..but my point is that Bush needs to deal with his own hypocrisy re: The Saudis,our borders and other issues.

The majority of American KNOW that the leftist journos are full of it, and the sharply lowered ratings and subscription figures prove it.

Bush's low popularity in the US comes from quite another source...which is what this piece is about.