"We talked about the fact that our coalition troops that are heading into Baghdad will be arriving on time. In other words, I'm paying attention to the schedule of troop deployments to make sure that they're there, so that General Petraeus will have the troops to do the job -- the number of troops to do the job that we've asked him to do."
1) Can't they do anything with him? This country, once the big, brawny, brawling Breadbasket of the World and Forger of Steel to scrape the skies is now pretty much the Queen of the Makeover. We specialize in turning guttersnipes and trailer trash into stars, before turning them back into gutter trash, and yet in eight years (counting the 2000 Republican "campaign") no one has been able to teach this prep-school prat how to behave in public. He's like a nose-picking child who has a speaking part in the school Christmas pageant, and you work for two months to get him to stop, and on the big day he tells the crowd, "I'm not supposed to eat boogers anymore!"
2) Speaking of faded American greatness, is there anything we've gotten right in the past twenty-five years? If we could put a man on the moon, how is it that I still know who Anna Nicole Smith was? The corpse of Fred Astaire was last seen dancing with a Hoover upright, what was it? fifteen years ago? proving that we have the technology to have simply airbrushed the rest of that pneumatic trollop out of our collective memory many years ago. (I will link this up, Your Honor.) I mean, aren't there enough sensible adults left in this country to put an end to wall-to-wall coverage of someone no one outside her immediate family could possibly have cared about? I'm reminded of this because for the thirty-forty seconds of Wednesday's press conference I could stomach I was thinking, "These people asking the questions are employed by the same people who think I'm fascinated by all things Dead Anna Nicole! And they're the same people who tried to tell me that the spastic megalomaniac at the podium is someone I'd Like To Have A Beer With.
3) Nicknames. He's still using the nickname schtick? Okay, ancient news. I understand that most any President has worn out his welcome after six years, and this one was not a particularly fertile field for investigation to begin with. But I think it's instructive to remember that a good number of people ate this shit up six years ago, and that includes a sizable chunk of the Press. And okay, I'm the sort of guy who shakes like a Hulk-morphing Bill Bixby when the bank teller says, "Thank you, James," or "Will that be all, Jim?" at the close of a transaction. It's Mr. Riley, unless I've earlier availed myself of your nameplate to say, "So, Jennifer, that's a lovely blouse. What're you, about a 35 C?"
I mean, I understand if this shit played well in Texas; riding around in a friggin' RV got Mitch Daniels elected here. But how did the 98% of the public which has not married a first cousin who appeared on the Jerry Springer Show fall for it? Let alone the Grey Goose-and-free-rumaki types of the Press Corps? Bush's forced jocularity is not bucolic good humor, it's a smug-ugly violation of the social norm in a situation where everyone calls him "Mr. President." It's just too bad that six years ago the Press didn't take this as a sign that all such conventions were relaxed and start calling the President by nicknames of its own. Like "Trainwreck." or "Booger".
4) Iran. Uh, didn't General Petraeus get around to mentioning we'd had to scrape all those "surge" troops together (the ones who are arriving according to the schedule we didn't have as recently as Tuesday) by going door to door and impressing anyone who fit a 42 regular? And I'm pretty sure it was Ol' Trainwreck himself who said they were off to secure Baghdad and Anbar Province. So who, exactly, is left to fight Iranians? Or was that just an excuse to bomb them, in which case a) you're never gonna set their "nuclear weapons program" back more than a couple months at best and b) do we suppose that is going to make them more or less likely to kill American soldiers who are now being extended even further, have no hope of any further troop increases to back them up, and face a worsening equipment situation, downgraded from "Sucks"? Apparently the great hope of this administration, six years on, is to be able to vex Congressional Democrats, which is like aspiring to piss in the lemonade and get your kid brother to drink it.
5) Has anyone else noticed that viewed through the lens of his "unscripted" appearances George W. Bush has gone from profligate scion they tried to keep out of the papers, through the "Well it can't be helped but try to scare the stockholders too much" phase, to what we saw yesterday, the Idiot Son who's finally figured out that nobody can stop him or the Fart Joke Express? There was that uncomfortable bit about his being hunkered down in the White House, where I had the sudden realization: Cheney failed, Rove failed, everybody around him who was smarter than he is (which is to say, everybody) failed, and that has had the unfortunate effect of convincing the World's Most Dangerous Moron that he's just as smart as anyone. What's it like to be one of this guy's supporters these days? I know, I know, small sample size, but are they constantly on the lookout for signs of cancer precursors? Have they removed all sharp objects and replaced all the stairs in their homes? Does someone else have to shave them every day?