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February 08, 2004

Bush Treads Water on Meet The Press

Can I just quote
myself from Friday in saying I completely and absolutely nailed what was going to happen on the show:
I'm going against the grain from most people who don't like Tim Russert and say, I think he's going to hit the president hard.

He will be deferential early on but as the interview goes along he'll quickly realize that none of his questions are actually getting any kind of meaningful answers and realize he's looking like a roboton pudwhacker unless he asks hard questions. So he'll ask harshly, if only to entertain himself.

My slightly more reasoned explanation is, he's really got nothing to lose by being hard on the president. He'll get a lot more credibility - or obtain back that which he once had - this way.

I said more that was pretty directly spot-on. (I don't get to say that much here, so indulge me).

In the Oval Office (I'm sure there's been MTP interviews in the Oval Office before, right?), with Bush looking and sounding less informed than almost every "average American" I know, Russert had these harder questions prepared: He pulled out the Time cover of a bruised and battered Bush - and essentially said, "You campaigned on a pledge to be a uniter not a divider. You're not really a uniter are you."

The president's response? "Gosh, I really don't know why that is." That was verbatim, including the gosh.

He then said, to paraphrase, Washington is a tough place and it has been a disappointment to him and that if you look back at his statements he's been upbeat. He didn't say, if you look at what's been done in my name and I signed off on - yeah, we're partisan bastards who want results no matter who disagrees.

Russert asked Bush whether he should stop any attempt to cut taxes further bearing in mind Bush is the first president in history to cut taxes during (self-declared) war time. Bush said, "That's what a president does, he keeps his options open." (paraphrasing slightly).

I think I counted 15 questioning "See?" from Bush during the time I watched. Increasingly the answer among voters seems to be, "No."

It started at 8:00 a.m. MT and frankly I missed the first half hour. After seeing the half hour I did see, I don't think I missed much, see? A repeat of the SOTU. In other words, nothing to put your teeth into.

In short, nothing there.

UPDATE 10:37 - The transcript is here.

My favorite exchange so far (I'm scanning):
Russert: The night you took the country to war, March 17th, you said this: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

President Bush: Right.
Russert: That apparently is not the case.
President Bush: Correct.

Balder than a pornstar's snatch.

UPDATE II 14:43 Other Russert-conversation blog-centric discussion related activities.

Ara Rubyan has a quite superb – Shorter Meet The Press, (as he mentioned in my comments). The best Rubyan “short”:

18. Are you willing to allow the UN to have a central role in the rebuilding of Iraq?

They will not have a central role in spending our money.

19. Will the UN be given a central role in the transfer of democracy to Iraq?

They will have a vital role.

Oliver describes well the President’s approach: Bush reminds me of the kid who never paid attention during class but crammed the night before and memorized pieces of the material. Then, when he was actually asked the questions he just spews off the bits he memorized, no matter if they are actually applicable or not.

Maha Blog - middle link of three separate MTP posts.