Sunday, June 27, 2004

Mommy! She's being mean to me!

Updating yesterday's post about President Bush's appearance on Irish TV: Mitch Cohen cites a story in the Irish Independent on the reaction by the White House to the interview.

THE White House has lodged a complaint with the Irish Embassy in Washington over RTE journalist Carole Coleman's interview with US President George Bush.


The Irish Independent learned last night that the White House told Ms Coleman that she interrupted the president unnecessarily and was disrespectful.

She also received a call from the White House in which she was admonished for her tone.

And it emerged last night that presidential staff suggested to Ms Coleman as she went into the interview that she ask him a question on the outfit that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern wore to the G8 summit.

Cohen also has the transcript - you can check it, and see when and where she "interrupted" him. He complains 5 times in all - and, if you watch the clip, you se at least one other time where she says something, and he just closes his eyes and waits, then goes back to his script. It's a fascinating performance. It's interesting that at least once, he interrupted her, and when he claims she's not letting him finish, in fact, he never let her finish the question. (She starts asking a question about the world being more dangerous - gives and example - he interrupts her before she finishes, and then won't let her finish.)

It's all very strange. Her tone, in fact, is politice and deferential - she asks tough questions, questions that challenge him - but you'd think he'd be able to take somethign like that. And her "interruptions" aren't terribly rude - they don't come off as rude at all. They come off as someone thinking on her feet - she asks something, he says something, she tries to follow up - he tells her to wait, and proceeds to move away from the question... Her interjections are, indeed, logical, polite - she never talks over his speechmaking - more than once, her "interruptions" come after full stops by the president....

He apparently had the questions three days in advance - he must have memorized his answers - she must have come in expecting an interview, while he expected to make a speech. That they are crying about this is extremely embarrassing. It's obvious Bush can't defend his policies in any forum where his audience is anything but passive viewers - he does not have the capacity, as a person, to have a conversation with another person - not that there are any good answers for a lot of the things he'd get called on. Change the subject on Abu Ghraib - change the subject and make stuff up on Weapons of Mass Destruction, change the subject and evade on the Palestinian issue - most of all, charge straight ahead and don't let the other guy get a word in anywhere.

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