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Friday, April 29, 2005


Talking Monkey Goes Prime-Time

I'm a reasonable person, I think. I would not classify myself as a conspiracy-theory nutjob. I don't believe that the CIA is beaming signals into my brain. I don't believe that there is a group of seven bankers who control the world's finances. I think the Sasquatch and Loch Ness Monster pictures are crappy hoaxes.

But I am firm in my belief that George W. Bush wears a tiny speaker in his ear during press conferences and gets his answers fed to him.

I mean, listen to the man, for Christ's sake! He takes these Pinter-esque pauses wherein he stammers and uhhhs and ehhhs and then he comes out with these pre-digested sound bites, which he sometimes gets right and sometimes doesn't. He seems like a less-polished version of Bill Hurt in Broadcast News. Now, in a James L. Brooks comedy, it's hilarious when a handsome but vacant boob has to have someone tell him what to say, but that's not what I want in a chief executive. Unfortunately, the Democrats are all too happy to take the Albert Brooks part, sweaty and unappealing, providing no viable alternative to the amiable doofus we've got.

He sounded even worse in the scripted stuff he did earlier in the press conference, when he was reading his prepared shpiel on Social Security and energy policy, with the exception of a couple of sections that you could tell he'd done a hundred times while on his sixty-city trip to shore up support for his dumb-ass privatization idea. For most of that portion of the evening, he looked for all the world like a kid who hadn't prepared quite enough for his bar mitzvah, glancing down too much at his papers and narrowing his already beady eyes in discomfort.

Even if his handlers will trust him to read something sitting on a podium, though, they can't trust him to come up with answers off the top of his head to a range of questions from the White House Press Corps, especially when one or two of them didn't seem to be playing their normal game of non-competitive T-Ball with 43. David Gregory actually had the temerity to not let Bush off the hook when he failed to answer a question about the role of faith in politics. He didn't exactly bitch-slap poor W, but he did press a couple of times for a clearer answer, not that any were forthcoming.

In fact, Bush didn't say much of anything last night. He really showed why this was only the fourth press conference he's given in the entire time he's been in office. I was left wondering exactly why the hell he bothered with it. He had to scramble to get the networks to even give him coverage. Apparently, several networks balked at giving up space in their prime-time sweeps month schedule, which prompted the White House to change the time of the press conference from 8:30 to 8:00.

Can you blame the networks? This news conference told us nothing new. Bush got ever-so-slightly more specific about his Social Security proposal, adding the word "voluntary" to his privatized investment accounts idea and spouting something vague about promising that lower-income seniors being able to keep a higher percentage of their income, but he really didn't tell us anything new. If I was a network, I'd flip out that my viewing audience was going to miss the series finale of JAG.

'Cause, apparently, Harm and Mac finally get together. I've been hoping for this for so long.

What do you mean you don't believe in the Loch Ness Monster and Sasquatch?
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