Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bush: "I'm a leader who gets things done."

I was at a longtime friend’s home on Superbowl Sunday a few years ago when the Packers won. As the broadcast showed the celebrations on the field and in the Green Bay locker room, we were told that the president was making a congratulatory call to the winning coach. Viewers soon listened in as President Clinton chatted briefly.

My friend growled that Clinton should be working for the country, not making phone calls to athletic coaches. I remember asking if it was so bad for a president to take a break on a Sunday to watch the Superbowl. My friend said it was, that there had to be something more important for any president to do than make phone calls to coaches, even on Superbowl Sunday.

I didn’t pursue the discussion, as we have a tacit agreement not to argue politics. But I suspect the friend’s complaint was prompted by his dislike of that president. I have observed that Bill Clinton can do absolutely nothing acceptable, so far as my friend is concerned.

I mention all this because I’d like to put aside our non-aggression pact and ask the same friend how he feels about some of the current president’s activities. I cite Bush’s spending nearly half of his time in office on vacation before the tragedy of 9/11. And almost as much time since. But I don’t know how much of the nation’s work Bush can do when he is not in Washington; so, questioning vacation time may be a murky area from my view point so far away from both D.C. and Crawford.

But there are other reports of Bush activities, discussed here in no particular order, that also make me wonder if my friend’s statement about Clinton having better things to do than making a Superbowl Sunday phone call might be an appropriate kind of question to raise about this president. For example, Bush spent almost two months at one stretch during the last campaign away form the Oval Office. And since his reelection, he has spent about that much time, again at one stretch, stumping the hinterlands to chat with invited audiences about his privatization plan for Social Security which would “compound every day.” Who is running the West Wing during those times? And the nation?

I suppose one might question the time spent away from the country’s problems simply to throw out the first pitch of the baseball season if one wanted to be as critical of Bush as my friend was of Clinton.

There was the newspaper report a few months ago about a small plane that invaded White House air space in midday of midweek, causing the Secret Service to evacuate both the staff and Laura Bush. The president was off cycling with a friend in Maryland somewhere and was not even told of the threat or evacuation of his wife until after the situation had played out and the president had finished his ride.

There was a vacation Bush hastily interrupted to sign “emergency” legislation concerning Teri Shiavo. And, perhaps most notably, the five week vacation in August when he had no time for Cindy Sheehan, but flew to Tucson to chat with an invited group of senior citizens about medicare reform on the day Katrina hit the coast.

Perhaps because of criticism of his slow response to the hurricane, Bush has visited New Orleans eight far... and he also flew to Colorado "to monitor" clean up/rescue efforts along the coast. I can't help wondering why he couldn't monitor that from the Oval Office, or at least from the White House "situation room."

And he interrupted the August vacation to fly in Airforce One to Illinois for a photo opportunity bill signing one day and to New Mexico for another signing ceremony on another. Those trips were just shortly before Bush told the country that we should all conserve gasoline. May I ask if those bills could have been signed in the Oval Office, saving a few thousand gallons of fuel?

How about that fake video visit with troops in Iraq? You know, the one where the stumbling president demonstrated that it was he, not the troops, who needed rehearsing. What benefit for America was accomplished by that staged chat?

A small-item report last week mentioned that the president had quit a little early on Friday, leaving for Crawford about 3:00 p.m. Curmudgeon that I am, I really want to ask my friend if perhaps there isn’t something important these days that the president might be dealing with in the Oval Office on a Friday afternoon.

Another small item appeared today, causing me to expound on this whole subject. Under a series of little stories in my paper, grouped as “Also in the News” is a report under a tiny headline, “Bono chats with Bush about world poverty.” It says that the president met with U2 front man Bono and talked about the world’s poor. The paper further reported that the British rock star and Bush then had lunch together in a private dining room, after which the president showed Bono around the Oval Office.

If I wanted to be almost as critical of this administration as my friend was of the last one, I could suggest that all the trips and activities I have mentioned seem to be evidence that those who make the president’s schedule and pull Bush’s strings work hard to find little things for him to do to keep him away from his desk and out of their hair.

~ ~


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10/21/2005 3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are on to something. It used to be that the world kidded vice presidents for their ceremonial activities and meanderings that had little to do with actually running the country. But it is the president, in your scenario. Funny.

10/21/2005 3:16 PM  
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10/21/2005 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Tinkerbell said...

I'm back! Laughed out loud at the truth yoiu reveal.

10/21/2005 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Tinkerbell said...

I'm back! Laughed out loud at the truth you reveal.

Yes, we used to laugh at the vice president. Now it is everyone! When we aren't crying.

10/21/2005 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush must have been feeling frisky and in charge when he decided to nominate his groupie buddy Miers to the Supreme Court. No wonder his ultra right wing base is upset! He did something on his own, with predictable results!

10/21/2005 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean like I find reasons for my husband to go to the drug store, the library, the bank to keep him from
alphabatizing the spices in the cupbord, turning the toilet paper around on the holder so that it unwinds "backwards," or fiddling with the thermostat?

10/21/2005 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Tankman said...

I think you hit on the reason the far right is so upset with Miers. They did not get to decide, as with every other appointment and activity. I can hear them behind their closed doors right now saying, "What the hell was George thinking? Does he believe he is in charge around here?"

10/22/2005 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like you and your friend are two of a kind - neither wanting to hear anything bad about your favorite person but more than willing to rake another over the coals.

10/22/2005 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Tambourineman said...

Funny how anonymous people like the one above call you out for behavior they exhibit themselves!

10/22/2005 4:27 PM  
Anonymous A different anonymous said...

I thought part of the humor of your post was the point that your friend was not pleased by Clinton and you are not pleased by Bush. Examples presented are not all the points available, but they do show the silliness of objecting to a Clinton phone call and the seriousness of the Bush vacuum. Tell the self righteous, nearly humorless, other anonymous that he misses the point.

10/22/2005 5:20 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Thanks to all for your comments, and don't be too hard on the anonymous message from the preachy one. I smile and know it is not a "he" who sent it.

10/23/2005 12:11 AM  
Anonymous tinytim said...

So you are saying that a woman is "raking you over the coals" (quaint expression) for listing Bush's actual activities, which "she" calls "raking another over the coals"?

10/23/2005 1:06 PM  
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