Attila the Pun
Monday, October 03, 2005
Mojo searched for

A Michael Gawenda column is often fairly self fisking. Sure, he occasionally says something less biased, but his angle on any story is well known before you even get past the first paragraph. This brings us to his latest effort:

When George Bush flew down on Air Force One to the hurricane-battered Gulf states for his seventh visit in less than two weeks, reporters asked him two questions shortly after his arrival.

Why was he doing all this flying up and down from Washington at a cost of about $100,000 a trip, and did he think he and his large entourage had got in the way of emergency workers in the aftermath of hurricane Rita with all these photo-opportunity visits?

These would be the same reporters that criticised Bush for not appearing to do enough I assume?

A year ago, the Bush White House would have noted the names of the reporters who asked these impertinent questions and then Karl Rove and his underlings would have made sure life was hell for them for ever more.

Dog whistle time. Gawenda has invoked the Rove keyword (second only to "neo-con") so we can all nod sagely, knowing that the Republican machine will crush all opposition. Does Gawenda have a single piece of evidence to back up his claim? Can he name me a journalist whose life was made hell by Rove and associated "underlings"?

A story that has done the rounds of foreign correspondents' circles in Washington for some time involves a British journalist based in Washington who flew to London to cover one of Bush's meetings with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. At a joint news conference with the leaders, the British journalist asked Blair to respond to the accusation that he was "Bush's lapdog". Tough question, no doubt, but a question that would not have surprised Blair, who is regularly subjected to far tougher questions from the British media.

This is all he has - a "story" that is doing the rounds of journalists. No names, no facts.

Blair answered the lap-dog question as a stony-faced Bush looked on. The story goes that after the news conference, a furious Bush told his aides that the reporter had insulted not just Blair, but the President. The reporter was never again to be allowed to attend Bush media briefings. Even when Blair subsequently came to Washington, the journalist was barred from the joint Blair-Bush news conference.

Surely it would be easy to name the journalist and confirm the "story". Isn't that what journalists are supposed to do? Instead we get a convenient rumour (which could have been invented for this column for all we know) with no substance. Great start Michael.

Something has changed in recent weeks. A year ago, no American journalist would have asked Bush whether his visits to hurricane-ravaged Louisiana and Texas to offer hope to victims and encouragement to rescue workers were getting in the way.

Really? Micheal is hoping that readers have the same sort of memory problems as the media, and will buy into his claims that 12 months ago Bush was all powerful, with no hard questions being asked by the media.

Something has changed about Bush. The charge by Bush haters that he was dumb and ignorant was always a dumb and ignorant charge, the result of hatred overwhelming rationality.

An accurate claim finally. Stopped clock twice a day I guess.

Since his politically disastrous handling of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, Bush has become a president who seems to have shrunk into just another politician. He seems to have been disconnected from the powerful aura of the office he holds.

"Politically disastrous" handling? Bush's poll figures may have taken a hit, but hardly into a disaster territory. Of course, the media decided that it was disastrous, thus it will be enshrined as having been so.

As a result, even journalists for the virulently pro-Bush Fox News Network have done what they never did before; aggressively question Bush about his Katrina failings.

What are the chances of Gawenda (or any other Age journo) referring to a network (e.g. the ABC) as "virulently" anti-Bush? About zero?

In the words of one commentator, George Bush seems to have lost his mojo and you don't need a literal definition of mojo to know what he's talking about.

No, but some sort of cogent point would help.

The hurricane visits, rather than repair the self-inflicted political damage caused by his initial tin-ear response to the vast suffering caused by Katrina, have made him look desperate, a president in search of photo opportunities.

Again, no polls, quotes or other evidence to back that up, it is purely Gawenda's opinion. Nothing wrong with that in an opinion piece of course, but when it is the basis of his whole article, it looks pretty flimsy.

He seems beleaguered, weighed down by problems; Iraq, hurricane destruction both human and material, an out-of-control budget, petrol prices at levels that could, on their own, destroy his presidency.

How exactly will they destroy his presidency? Is Gawenda seriously suggesting that Bush will resign over it? He can't be impeached, and he isn't allowed to run again, so what form will this "destruction" take?

And now there's the indictment on a conspiracy charge involving campaign donations, of Tom DeLay, the House of Representatives Majority Leader, the most powerful man on Capitol Hill, Bush's closest supporter and the man Bush has relied on to get his legislative program through Congress.

His closest supporter? What about the evil puppertmaster Karl Rove, mentioned earlier? Or the Vice President, Dick Cheney? Or does he only become Bush's closest supporter when he is indicted for something?

His ability to connect with the hopes and soothe the fears of much of middle America seems, at least for now, to have deserted him. He has lost his bounce, his sense of optimism.

Sorry Micheal, but are you expected me to take your word for it that Bush has lost his ability to connect with middle America? No thanks.

He is even starting to sound like Jimmy Carter, who was ridiculed by Republicans - and by much of the country - when he wore a cardigan as he addressed the nation almost 30 years ago from the Oval Office and suggested, after the oil price rises of the mid-1970s, that people put on their woollies and turn down their heating.

Oh really? Again, what has Bush actually said that sounds like Carter?

George Bush, Texas oilman, has now told Americans, in the light of rising petrol prices, that maybe they should leave their cars at home every now and then and take public transport. Maybe they should even think about car pooling, for heaven's sake!

Oh chortle chortle. What is wrong with those suggestions? Provided that he isn't wearing a cardigan whilst doing it, they sound like very sensible suggestions.

A year ago, the Bush Administration would have labelled such talk from Democrats as un-American.

What is with this "year ago" thing? And again, the whole sentence is complete BS. It is insulting that he thinks that we will believe that if a Democrat had suggested driving a little less, the Bush Administration would have labelled it as un-American.

But it's doubtful it will do Bush much good. What he needs is to find his mojo. A president without his mojo is prone to be asked rude questions by journalists, even American journalists, who no longer fear that their rudeness will be severely punished.

And thats it. Thats the sum total of the article. To summarise, here is the evidence that Gawenda has put forward to suggest that Bush may be facing the destruction of his presidency:

a) Bush got asked questions about his response to hurricane Katrina;

b) there is a rumour that Bush previously had an unnamed journalist banned for asking rude questions;

c) Bush hasn't banned any journalists lately

d) Gawenda thinks Bush looks desperate

e) Fox news has asked questions about his handling of Katrina

f) petrol prices are quite high

g) a prominent republican has been indicted

h) Bush has endorsed car pooling.

i) err, umm, mojo!

I think you will agree that nothing jumps out as being quite Watergate level stuff.

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