Saturday, 9 October 2004

Admitting Mistakes - Or Not

Sam Rosenfeld over on TAPPED cogently expressed something I felt was glaring in Bush's response last night to the woman who asked him to name three mistakes he had made.
...the way he tried to tell the audience member that he knew the real reason she was asking her question -- that he knew the insinuation she was trying to make: "When people ask that question, they're really talking about Iraq". Who the hell is he to explain to an ordinary citizen what she meant by her own question? (And let's remember, the lady went out of her way to say explicitly to Bush that "you've made thousands of decisions as president that have affected millions of people," and then ask out of all those thousands of decisions what are three that were mistakes; how was that obviously a question about Iraq?) Bush's arrogance, his defensiveness, the insularity, the delusions -- it's all nicely encapsulated in that one answer.
Like Sam, I felt Kerry erred in following up the question by talking about Bush's mistakes, though my gut was that he should have first acknowledged the questioner's wisdom in realizing the huge responsibility of the President in making so many very weighty decisions, and then opine that he could promise the American people that hindsight would surely afford him the ability to look back on his own Administration after serving four years, and easily cite numerous examples where different decisions would have been preferable. "I cannot promise to lead perfectly, but I can promise to keep the interests of the entire citizenry of this great nation as the foremost priority when I do struggle with the tough decisions which will come my way."


-epm said...

I, too, was taken aback by the president's apparent delusions of clairvoyance. No that's not it. Not clairvoyance; insecurtity... defensiveness. Dare I say, lack of judgement. The man does not know humility, nor does he feign it well.

Another question in which the president seemed to trivialize the questioner's concern was the gentleman who expressed reservations about the errosion of rights (specifically fourth amendment rights) under the Patriot Act. He showed now empathy for the questioner, nor acknowledged this sentiment is a growing concern among Americans. Indeed, the president expressed surprise that anyone would be worried about civil liberties because he wouldn't let that happen. To question the Patriot Act was to question him personally.

Here's what Mr. Bush said:

" I really don't think your rights are being watered down."
" So I really don't think so. I hope you don't think that."
"I don't think the Patriot Act abridges your rights at all."

And as we know, if the president doesn't think something is so, is simply isn't so. No further analysis is necessary.

The president sees the Patriot Act as unamendable; an indivisible unit of law. He does't comprehend or acknowledge that there may be some legitimate flaws in the law. A concern raised about a single provision, is an attack on the whole.

But that's life in a world without gray.

RAM said...

Hey Walker, glad to see you doing this blog. Good stuff.

This was Kerry's weakest answer of the night (see the uncommonly insightful SNL coverage of it), and I wish he had highlighted the essence of the President's reply, which amounted to:

1) Iraq - no mistake.
2) Some other people who screw up got in the door - shouldn't have let them in.
3) No other mistakes.

So I would have liked it if Kerry had pointed out that the closest thing to a mistake that Bush could name was basically a backdoor way of blaming others. And to highlight this as another sign that the President isn't just "consistent" - he's incapable of objective evaluation.

It's interesting that the 7 of 10 Americans who came to believe that Saddam was connected to 9/11 are apparently being told that misapprehension was their own fault, given Bush and Cheney's assertion that technically, they never said there was a connection. Again, Not Our Fault. If I were among those 7, I would be somewhat insulted.