The Press Conference
Jesus wept. That was appalling.
Glenn Reynolds is making the best of it—“He made some very simple points”, “the questioners, as always, looked smug and irritating and superficial, making Bush look better by contrast”. (Yeah, it’s all about the damn liberal media—they gave him such a hard time.) The crowd at The Corner are spinning as fast as ever they can—‘I think his ’tiredness’ will read as ‘seriousness,’ i.e., non-cowboyness, to the public’, ‘There’s a method to his somber somnolence. Maybe this was a press conference for foreign consumption’ (the alternative—no method, just somnolence, is of course too awful to contemplate), ‘The transcript and the quotes in the papers will read better than it came across tonight’. Josh Chafetz over at OxBlog is playing it way, way down: “Nothing special” he insists. “No major screw-ups” (now there’s a high standard for the highest office in the land) “For international consumption?” he says, echoing Jonah Goldberg. What does this “For international consumption” line even mean, anyway? It’s not as if the President hasn’t got a good chunk of his own people to convince, and if it was for international consumption then some more questions from international journalists might have been in order. I keep thinking they’re saying “for international consumption” because Bush spoke English v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, which is a sure way to get foreigners to understand you.
No word yet from Andrew Sullivan, but I feel confident that the word will be “Masterful”. Actually, maybe not: Daniel Drezner picks up on what seems to be the official word to describe Bush’s demanor, namely “somber”. Everybody over at Atrios’s is disgusted; at Daily Kos “somber” is coming across as “sedated”, and Kevin Drum thinks the performance of the reporters was “pathetic”.
Casus Belli’s reactions are worth contrasting with Daniel Drezner’s for a sense of how Bush’s performance looked to different wings of the International Relations people.
Meanwhile, back in the world of political leaders able to defend their policies when asked about them, Tony Blair was grilled by a bunch of young people on MTV. Early questions included such softballs as “I’m able to produce anthrax in my bathroom—Why don’t you bomb Sweden?” from a guy from Stockholm, along with accusations of “absolute disdain” for public opinion. But there he was, taking the flak. Compare and contrast, etc.
Update: Surprisingly, Andrew Sullivan is not spinning with the faithful: “The spin is that he was trying to look calm and reassuring. I just thought he looked wiped. There were moments when he almost seemed catatonic with fatigue.”