Friday, October 14, 2005

Didn't Work the Way They Hoped it Would

Yesterday's scripted love-fest between Bush and some of his praetorians just didn't go as planned, as a somewhat less-supine media let the world know that the setup was fake. I guess the message "if you're not with us, you're against us!" just doesn't have as much effect as reality sets in:

The event, stage-managed for television, came across as carefully scripted and a bit awkward, despite attempts to prepare the soldiers for what they would be asked and to give them time to think through their answers.

The LA Times was a touch more acerbic:

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said he did not think the soldiers had been told what they could or could not say.

"The troops can ask the president whatever they want," he said. "They've always been free to do that."

Bush did not invite the soldiers to ask any questions, however, and none chose to do so.
...
With Iraqi troop readiness at the center of the war debate, Bush's discussion with the troops was questioned by war critics such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who complained that it was "highly scripted," and by military officers.

"Officers are upset that military people would be coached as to how to talk to the president," said a senior military official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It's against everything that people in uniform stand for."

Well, yeah, but to Bush those folks in uniform are nothing more than useful chess pieces, and as disposable as dixie cups.

Bloggers, as is our wont, were even less polite. Kevin Drum refers to Dubya as "His Bubbleness," which is a new and good one. Here's Mark Kleiman:

Not only is it obvious that the soldiers are reciting set-piece speeches -- note that when GWB interrupts one of them, she goes back to the beginning of her answer and recites it over in the same words -- but Alison Barber, the deputy chief Pentagon flack who runs the prep session, gives special instructions about what to do "if he gives us a question that's not something we've scripted," treating that as an unexpected occurrence.

The whole thing reminds me of those "spontaneous demonstrations" communist countries are famous for. Just as scripted, just as cretinous.

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