Attila the Pun
Friday, July 01, 2005
An interesting interview with US President Bush by the Times' Gerard Baker contains this gem:
In person Mr Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one’s faith in the reliability of the modern media.
Bush also drops a few jokes:
Mr Bush added a bust of President Eisenhower. It sits to the left of his desk, made from the timbers of HMS Resolute, a Victorian transport ship, another gift from the British. You’re probably the only people in here for whom I don’t need to explain what ‘HMS’ means,” he says. “My Texas friends have no idea what I’m talking about when I tell them.”
As expansive as he is, Mr Bush can’t help betraying a faint irritation at the intrusiveness of the modern media, with a reference to a famous brief medical emergency from a couple of years ago.
He points out the door in the well of the presidential desk, placed there by President Roosevelt to hide the fact that he spent his presidency in a wheelchair. “FDR was in a wheelchair and nobody knows. I choke on a pretzel and the whole world gets to hear about it.”
Perhaps most revealing is his response to a question about Iran. His words are polite but the President’s body language is eloquent. As I read him a quote from the latest rantings of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, and remind him that the Iranian President was a leader of the students who took Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979, he is visibly agitated. He glances at his advisers with a look of disgust that suggests that the chances of a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis are remoter than ever.
The edited interview transcript is also interesting. On September 11:
So as long as I’m sitting here in this Oval Office, I will never forget the lessons of September 11, and that is that we are in a global war against cold-blooded killers.
Others have forgotten that, or choose to ignore it. On democracy in the Middle East:
Frankly, I rejected the intellectual elitism of some around the world who say, “Well, maybe certain people can’t be free”. I don’t believe that. Of course I was labelled a, you know, blatant idealist.
But I am. Because I do believe people want to be free, regardless of their religion or where they are from. I do believe women should be empowered in the Middle East. I don’t believe we ought to accept forms of government that ultimately create a hopelessness that then can be translated into jihadist violence. And I believe strongly that the ultimate way you defeat an ideology is with a better ideology. And history has proven that. Anyway, you got me going. Starting to give the whole speech again.
The whole interview is quite neutral, albeit with softball questions, and you end up with a much more positive impression of Bush than the vast majority of what you read in the media.
Of course, people will say that the Times is owned by Murdoch, so *of course* they want you to think that....
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