Watching Bush’s press conference this morning, I’m forced to give Craig a chuckle by pointing out that (to me at least) it’s obvious that Bush is receiving secret audio promptings. I’ve spent 6 years listening to the guy talk, and his public statements fall into two distinct categories: there’s him speaking his own words, and there’s him speaking while listening to someone whispering promptings to him. And today’s press conference was very much the latter.
It’s a subtle distinction I’m drawing, and it’s based on clues that are potentially ambiguous. When Bush pauses in the middle of a statement to “gather his thoughts,” then delivers something substantially more articulate than he’s able to come up with in other contexts, it’s clear (to me) what’s going on. When he tells someone to be quiet, to let him finish, when the person he’s outwardly addressing isn’t actually saying anything, it’s clear (to me) what’s going on.
Craig, when you’re done chuckling, I encourage you to go to whitehouse.gov and watch the video of today’s press conference.
Watch for the pauses. Watch his eyes. Ask yourself: What seems more likely, given what we’ve all learned about Bush in the last six years?
I know it’s an illusion of the TV era that we feel we “know” a celebrity in the same way we “know” someone whom we know in real life. But the more video of Bush I watch, the more convinced I am that I can tell when he’s actually speaking extemporaneously, and when he’s sometimes slipping into ventriloquist’s dummy mode.
It doesn’t really matter. I realize that all politicians are essentially dishonest, are trying to craft a false impression of their abilities. But in Bush’s case, I believe there has been a sustained, intense, and fundamentally dishonest effort to portray him as the kind of person who can get up in front of a group of reporters and effectively spin his policies for an hour at a time, based only on his own knowledge and abilities.
Update: And at the end of the White House webcast, as he walked away, I’d swear he had a Y-shaped pattern of lines running down the back of his jacket, similar to the ones that made such a stir during the Kerry debates. I’d be interested in seeing if those last few seconds of video are included in the version posted later on the White House site, and in taking a closer look at them if they are.
Later update: And now, having watched the archived video through to the end, it does in fact cut off as soon as he turns away, so I didn’t get a second look at the next second or two of video, which was part of the original White House stream. Oh well.