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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

 

Didn't see that coming

"There's a certain tension that kind of just creeps into your body that's hard to get rid of."

Who said this?
(A) My yoga teacher
(B) Jennifer Aniston
(C) Our president, George W. Bush

The answer is C - our president. That comment was part of an interview he gave to C-SPAN on Sunday, and I have to tell you... I have never heard him speak so freely before.

C-SPAN said there had been so much coverage of Iraq and the Presidents's domestic agenda in recent weeks that they were going to take the opportunity to speak more broadly about his governing philosophies. Whatever your views on Bush, but especially if you've been as intensely critical of him as I have, I really encourage you to check it out. I'm still intensely critical of the majority of his policies and of the secrecy of his administration, and I still find it outrageous that someone with such poor communication skills (to put it mildly) is the President of the United States (since I firmly believe that communication style is the best indication of thinking style). To that last point, it's still clear he's no intellectual - he seemed more like an enthusiastic college student taking a really neat history class. But at least I got a glimpse of what seemed like a genuine person, and I have to say I felt relief. I'm not sure what that means - "relief" - but I think it means I'm a little less afraid. Of course, it's sad that I feel a glimmer of hope when after 4 years the President finally speaks like a human being...and of course, his response to the only policy question (about censorship) was the weakest...but hope is hope, however brief, and it can coexist with outrage. I think.

By the way, if you check out the interview, be sure to watch the video to see what I mean - it won't come through strongly enough in the transcript. He really loosens up after the first couple of questions. I think more than anything this interview underscores how much fear and anger he feels for the press generally - this is an example of what happens when he (apparently) really trusts the interviewer.

Comments:
But do his motives and feelings on this issue really matter? He's still sent more than a thousand American soldiers to their deaths, and ordered the deaths of untold thousands of Iraqis... I can't say I feel any better about the situation knowing that he feels "tense" about it. This isn't Truman feeling bad about nuking Hiroshima because the alternative was a bloody invasion, this is a president willfully killing his own countrymen in a “preemptive counterattack” for motives still unknown.
I wonder if he also felt "tense" about the 152 people he sent to death as governor of Texas? Evidently not, since he nominated Gonzalez for AG.
Anyway, point is that from my perspective, any amount of humanization makes his actions more deplorable, since he's considered the scenario and we’re still over there. Leaders are judged by their actions; everything else is a detail.
Overly simplified of course, but hey, it's a blog response. :) - JA
 
I completely agree - the fact that he came across as recognizably human in an interview doesn't excuse or redefine any of his actions or mean his policies are any more in line with my values. I just wanted to share an initial, emotional response of, "hey, whoah, that's weird -the guy actually has thoughts that aren't programmed sound bites." And in retrospect I think the quote I chose, about tension, was misleading - I didn't mean to say "poor guy, he's tense," I just meant to pull it out as the kind of thing we don't usually hear him saying. I was just struck by how differently he came across in this interview compared to all the other interviews and press conferences I've seen him in...
 
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