The Carole Coleman Interview

If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely watch the interview that Carole Coleman of Ireland’s RTE did with Bush on the eve of his trip to Ireland: RealOne Player file. Bush gets pissy with Coleman for interrupting him when he’s trying to give her some of his trademark non-responsive answers.

Some followup items on the interview:

  • Atrios quotes an article from the Irish press on how the White House lodged a complaint with the Irish Embassy over Coleman’s “disrespect”: Waaaahhh. Apparently the White House refused to honor a previous agreement to let RTE interview Laura Bush today, after they discovered that Coleman would be the reporter doing the interview. Heh. I wonder who made that call. Bush? Laura? Karl Rove?
  • In a separate item, Atrios quotes Coleman as follows: “The policy of the White House is that you submit your questions in advance, so they had my questions for about three days.”
  • Digby of Hullabaloo: Magically delicious.
  • Ezra Klein of Pandagon: It wasn’t me.

One of the things that struck me about the interview is the way it highlights the difference between Bush’s, and the rest of the world’s, definition of “leadership.” In Bush’s mind, “leadership” means “doing what I said I’d do, regardless of people’s efforts to change my mind, and regardless of subsequent developments.”

But see, this misses a key element of leadership, at least as defined by everyone not-Bush. For the rest of the world, it’s not enough that the leader stick with a particular course of action despite the efforts of naysayers to turn him aside. The leader must be proven right by subsequent events. It’s that, not his mere willingness to continue unswerving on a stated course, that gains someone a reputation as a great leader. That’s what causes people to follow him. (I saw this discussed on some other weblog recently, but now I can’t find it, dammit. Sorry about the failure to attribute.)

(Update: And now I’ve found it again. It was Paul Waldman, writing at Fly Trap — Double snap! — in which he quoted Joseph Biden in a recent Rolling Stone piece:

About six months ago, the president said to me, “Well, at least I make strong decisions, I lead.” I said, “Mr. President, look behind you. Leaders have followers. No one’s following. Nobody.”

Anyway, glad I got that straightened out.)

This disconnection goes to the heart of Bush’s Iraq problem. For Bush, the debacle on the ground in Iraq is irrelevant in evaluating his leaderhsip. The only thing you have to ask yourself, in his view, is whether he did what he said he’d do. And for certain definitions of the phrase, yeah, he did.

But in the world of grown-ups, actions have to be evaluated not just in terms of whether they show an unswerving consistency with stated intentions. They have to be evaluated in terms of the outcomes they produce. So far from being irrelevant, the ongoing chaos in Iraq is, in fact, quite relevant in evaluating the quality of his leaderhsip.

But again, Bush doesn’t get that. It’s part of that sense of entitlement he has. “Hey,” he seems to say. “Look at me. I’m the president. I don’t have to prove myself to anybody.”

Except that you do, George. You really do. And you’re failing.

30 Responses to “The Carole Coleman Interview”

  1. Doc Clarke Says:

    Are you sure your talking about the same interview that I saw? Sure, the interviewer interrupted a few times, and Bush looked momentarily annoyed, but he was able to keep ‘on message’, plowing right through the follow-up questions as though they didn’t exist. To a dedicated Bush-hater, this may seem like a big coup (particularly given the timidity of the Washington Press Corps), but to anyone else what will register is Bush’s message and not Carole Colemans interjections.

  2. John Callender Says:

    I wouldn’t call it “a big coup.” But I thought it revealed a side to him that’s rarely seen (because everything in his administration is centered on avoiding its being seen).

  3. rick pietz Says:

    Wow. But he actually misspeaks so much less when he’s upset. Amazing.

    I’m trying to link, but so much is moving so slow.

    Does not bode well for the internet.

  4. rick pietz Says:

    Wow. But he actually misspeaks so much less when he’s upset. Amazing.

    I’m trying to link, but so much is moving so slow.

    Does not bode well for the internet.

  5. Fanni Says:

    Thanks for this excellent write-up and link. I had commented on the interview earlier and this presentation adds substance (and, no, that is NOT a comment on what Bush says).

  6. Robert Barrett Says:

    GWB can admit errors to neither himself nor others. For ‘God told (him)to attack Iraq.’ It is apparent that he is delusional, shameless,and incapable of thinking beyond the phrases he has memorized. Recall that embarrassing press conference, when he was asked if he could think of even one mistake he had made. After manifesting extreme discomfort for some time, he said, ‘I wish you had asked me that question before the program; I’m not too swift on my feet; if you had, maybe I could come up with one.’
    That a person so intellectually limited and bereft of conscience is misleading the mightest nation in the word should get us all to the polls in November. The fate of the entire world, as well as that of our beloved country, is at stake.

  7. Kim Says:

    I have tried from many sites to access the Carole Coleman interview in RealPlayer… and nothing appears on the screen.

    Have any of you encountered this?

  8. Burkholder Says:

    I can’t open the Coleman interview of Bush. Do you have the written transcripts?

  9. Dave Says:

    Typical Dubya interview. He memorizes some talking points and regurgitates them on cue.

    Coleman tell us:

    “The policy of the White House is that you submit your questions in advance, so they had my questions for about three days.”

    This explains why Bush was not a stammering fool.

    Coleman was not disrespectful. Bush got pissy when she interrupted him because he didn’t want to lose his place, or have her get into anything that wasn’t scripted. They are spiteful babies for canceling the Laura Bush interview. This is what people in the press call “The Access of Evil”; If you ask those pesky challenging questions instead of petting the snake they cut you off.

    He was more coherent then he was for the press conference he gave a few months back. That was an excerise in evasion. At least he appeared to answer some of Coleman’s questions. But he didn’t say anything to change my mind about him, or his greedy crusade.

  10. carrie Says:

    Thanks for putting this on the Internet. The interview verifies what I thought of him. He is a spoiled brat rich kid with limited intelligence and no intellect. He memorizes whatever Cheney tells him. He is a real scary man. And Laura is his Stefford wife.
    I wish God would stop talking to him. But soon the Universe will wake him up to reality. We all have to grow up and his time is coming soon. The sooner the better for all us.

  11. BARBARA Says:

    RE: “The policy of the White House is that you submit your questions in advance, so they had my questions for about three days.”

    This explains why Bush was not a stammering fool.


  12. gary perris Says:

    saddam trial will document that usa was source for chemicals. see washington post search engine.

  13. Lon Piotrowski Says:

    You ain’t seen nothing yet. Carole Coleman exposed the true George W. Bush. Read BUSH ON THE COUCH – INSIDE THE NIND OF THE PRESIDENT, by Justin A. Frank M.D. to learn why President Bush acts the way he does.

  14. michel Says:

    the man has no substence. He has the vocabulary of a teenager. And he doesn’t know what’s going on in the world. He included Pakistan in his list of muslim democracies!!!

  15. Fred Says:

    It’s an embarrasing time to be from the US. And its a challanging time ahead for us all. The United States has been taken over in a right-wing fascist fundamentalist coup. Watch Bush get re-elected, because the neo-cons have control of the vote with diebold. Then kiss any semblance of Democracy goodbye, along with our constitution. We’ll see a wave of violence and World domination that will make Iraq look like Sunday school.

  16. marlene stamm Says:

    i can’t believe this insipid idiot is the leader of the free world. i am ebarassed.

  17. ratboy Says:

    Every US citizen should dust off their old high school copy of George Orwell’s “1984.” It’s never been more appropriate since the day it was written than it is right now.

  18. James Says:

    I just got through watching the interview using the RTE archives.

    I cannot understand what the fuss is about. I have seen even lightweights like Wolf Blitzer hector Clinton more aggressively. What would the White House have done if they had to cope with Charles Wheeler instead of Coleman?

    I am equally surprised that the Sindo reported that Ahern or his spokesperson said that “within Government there was an acknowledgement that the interview lacked respect.” I hope that was just Irish diplomacy instead of round heels.

  19. David Stewart Says:

    What would the White House have done if they had had to cope with Jeremy Paxman? I think a lot of people who criticised Carole Coleman didn’t realise that in Europe this is how we interview our employees leaders. Who can forget Jeremy Paxman’s interview with the then Home Secretary Michael Howard on BBC 2’s Newsnight. Paxman asked Howard a straight yes or no question. When Howard tried to prevaricate he kept asking the question for a total of 15 times. (It subsequently turned out that the tape with the next item had broken and Paxman had to improvise until it was fixed.) The intersting thing is Howard didn’t take it personally. At one of those reviews of the year (or decade, or something) Howard and Paxman had a good laugh about the whole thing.

  20. Debra Says:

    Thank goodness there are so many people who see how frightening and dangerous “dumb” can be… and has been. What scares me more are reactions like Doc Clarke’s where just staying on message is the important thing. Don’t answer questions, don’t prove your case, just blunder through like a bull in a china shop ignoring any opinion that differs from your own. I can accept it if he would at least thoughtfully consider it and provide some other rationale. But we won’t get that from that brain. ||We have got to get him out of office.

  21. Halimah Says:

    YOU WROTE: In a separate item, Atrios quotes Coleman as follows: “The policy of the White House is that you submit your questions in advance, so they had my questions for about three days.”

    QUESTION: Why should GWB, who says he “doesn’t read,” allow anyone else in his administration to do otherwise, especially if the questions submitted were in words of more than one syllable?


  22. dadzo Says:

    “On message” is about all that matters in American politics. It’s the tragic flaw in Democracy — every vote is equal (except in Florida); in a society with very little intellectual patience, in which meaningful debate is valued less than worm-eating, can we really expect substance to vanquish style? Watch the interview again. Ignore what Shrub is actually saying and focus only on how he’s not allowing Coleman to dictate the terms of the “interview”. He appears strong and confident, even “Presidential”. Of course, if you’re processing the actual content, he’s still shallow and wimpy. I’d pay top dollar to see Bush trying to survive one episode of the “Question Time” grilling that Tony Blair submits to regularly. Or for that matter a thirty-minute debate with Bill Clinton.

  23. Ivan Says:

    how is this man a president? if he was the leader of any european state he would be out!! although there is tony blair……
    i think the problem is many americans confuse critism of bush with critism of america or americans. but it’s not, most europeans admire and like america and it’s culture. many americans seem to hold there president in such regard, that an attack on bush is a attack on america – it’s not. also, many americans have said that they should get behind there president during a war. but this is not world war 2, this is a war that was started on LIES. nobody can deny that now, its pure fact – LIES. america and england should be very angry that their countries have lied to them,not to mention the soldiers that are dying for lies, thats where the real war is – the battle for truth.
    for the sake of america and the world please do not vote for bush, before he does something even worse.

  24. V. B. Says:

    bush is great… screw you all!

  25. V.B. Says:

    just kidding..

  26. V. B. Says:

    george bush is the greatest man alive… you should all be thankful that he is there to protect us, to defend liberty and freedom, and to extend peace in the world…

    you europeans and arabs and muslims and , whatever, don’t understand the man…

  27. T. D. Says:

    v.b. does not support bush…

    sorry v.b….

  28. PJS Says:

    So George, can we win this war on terror or what?
    George: “I don’t think you can win it”; in fact “we are winning and we will win”;
    So which is it George?
    George: “Heck you just got to look at our report on Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003 (April version), terror figures are way down…”

    “But George, the revised report indicates that 625 people were killed by terrorist attacks in 2003, up from the 307 reported in the April release. There were 3,646 wounded, a rise from the reported 1,593, and 208 acts of international terrorism, as opposed to the reported 190.”

    “I’m the war president see, and we got to spread liberty around the world, fact is we done totally obliterated more’n 10,000 women and children in Iraq. Not to mention Afg..Afga, the other place.”

    But George.., oh forget it.

  29. John Says:

    I could not open the video either, so I downloaded it (save target as) to my desktop and then played it from there. worked fine for me… I hope that helps someone.

  30. A.M. Says:

    For a Guy that is so full of Moral and anti-abortion and all that crap, but wasn’t he the guy
    when 20 years old who got a 15 year old girl pregnant (which is rape) and then force her to have an abortion. Yeah sounds like this guy is Anti-abortion when it suits him during election time. He also snorted Cocaine, was an Alcoholic draft-dodger with a vicious temper……..Yep he’s a regular Reverend Lovejoy all right ….(NOT !)
    This guy can’t even speak proper English or answer impromptu questions. This goes to show the extremely low level of intelligents of this man. He was gven an IQ test but the
    results were never released. I wonder why ??? He controls the american news media like
    a tyrant.

    The world is a more dangerous place with this fool in office. He has turned American in to a big brother state and is running the country using fear. He is the new Hitler but which wouldn’t be anything new to his family, seeing as his Grandfather Prescott Bush made plenty of money by investing in Nazi Germany, which was against the law at the time and for which he eventaully got caught.

    When after the Carol Coleman interview because he was put on the spot, he questioned the Irish leader why he was “not in control of state broadcaster” ?

    He stated to arab leaders that God told him to invade Aghanistan and Iraq.
    ??? does this not worry people that this guy is hearing voices ???

    The great deceiver is amongst us !
    Ladies and Gentlemen may I present George W. Bush……..The Anti-Christ.

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