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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Bush Interview on Fox

Bush's interview with Brit Hume earlier tonight (transcript) was a pretty weak display in my eyes, but of course I don't like the president to begin with. Little things like Bush claiming to be a "man of peace" when he started an unnecessary war in Iraq bother me.

One flat out obfuscation came in response to Hume's question on federal spending:

"HUME: Some of your critics have said that you're not exactly a tightwad, some of your conservative critics. That you've been -- that you -- not just because of the war -- and many other areas as well. You haven't vetoed a single bill, spending levels are going through the roof.

"What do you say, Mr. President?

"BUSH: Well, I would say that we've done a very good job of exacting some fiscal discipline here in Washington by getting budget agreements. And if you've noticed, the last two budget cycles, because of the agreements we put in place -- and Congress has worked with us to hold the line. We've got a capital and discretionary spending or agreement on discretionary spending not to exceed four percent. And I will hold Congress to that.

"Now we have spent money, as you mentioned. My attitude is that when we put a youngster in harm's way, somebody who wears our nation's uniform in harm's way, he or she deserves the absolute best. And we are at war. And, yes, we've spent money on fighting and winning these wars."

Hume correctly points out that non-military discretionary spending is up significantly during Bush's time on office. Bush obfuscates by mentioning "budget agreements" and a vague figure of 4 percent. Then he wraps himself in the flag, saying we need to pay for the safety of troops, even though the question dealt with non-military expenditures.

My other favorite exchange came at the end of the interview:

"HUME: How do you get your news?

"BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything.

"I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves. But like Condoleezza, in her case, the national security adviser is getting her news directly from the participants on the world stage.

"HUME: Has that been your practice since day one, or is that a practice that you've...

"BUSH: Practice since day one.

"HUME: Really?

"BUSH: Yes. You know, look, I have great respect for the media. I mean, our society is a good, solid democracy because of a good, solid media. But I also understand that a lot of times there's opinions mixed in with news. And I...

"HUME: I won't disagree with that, sir.

"BUSH: I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

Bush, the non-reader, is thus only aware of the news as it is told to him by his advisers. You might think that Bush would want to read some things himself, develop his own opinions, rather than be fed with the views of his "objective" staff. I fear the Rumsfelds and Cheneys of the world might not actually be as objective as Bush thinks, and what's the matter with looking at the range of opinions expressed on an issue by the news media anyway? Isn't that what thinking people do? At a minimum, this would help him politically, by making him aware of how the administration's steps are being perceived, right? This White House has never been one that seeks a diversity of views on the questions of the day, and Bush has now given us more information as to why that is the case.

UPDATE: Reading the reader comments on this Atrios post with a brilliant dirty reference in the title, I'm reminded of Bush's claim that he was greeted warmly by the people in the streets of France and his line about Arafat: "In America, we believe in getting rid of people through a peaceful, orderly process."