We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

President Bush’s reaction to the elections

After an election in which “although many individual races were close the cumulative effect was a thumping” I watched President Bush give a brief statement and then spend the best part of a hour answering questions from a room full of journalists many of whom are his sworn enemies.

Political leaders in Britain do not react to election defeats that way – the give a statement and perhaps answer a question or two (normally not) and then run away.

I may disagree with a lot of things about what President Bush has done (for example I think that he has made the entitlement program burden, about which he rightly warned today, even worse than it was before he came into office), but he is clearly a man of great courage.

I could not have done what I watched him do today.

16 comments to President Bush’s reaction to the elections

  • Was it a defeat for Bush? Now he’s got a Congress that will cooperate with him on a guestworker visa program, raising the minimum wage, and other compassionate conservative (i.e. poorly disguised socialist) items on his agenda. It’s a wonder the Democrats hate him, the man’s done so much for their agenda.

  • Perry E. Metzger

    In the UK, you have question time. In the US, this sort of performance is rare, and Bush only does it when he feels he absolutely has to. I’d say that your politicians are generally far better at dealing with questions on the fly than ours are.

  • Perry E. Metzger

    In the UK, you have question time. In the US, this sort of performance is rare, and Bush only does it when he feels he absolutely has to. I’d say that your politicians are generally far better at dealing with questions on the fly than ours are.

  • The man is the chief of state and head of government of the most powerful nation on the planet, and you’re calling him a man of great courage for answering an hour’s worth of questions? Has this election enstupified you? You’ve turned into (or outed yourself as) little more than a GOP lickspittle, spewing Hannity talking points all over a blog that has been a longstanding and respectable voice for liberty.

    Grow up, for Christ’s sake, you look ridiculous.

    – Josh

  • James

    Courage? He’s shown a great deal of that in his past, hasn’t he?

    I don’t think he had much choice, hence why others are shouldering his burden.

  • Manuel II Paleologos

    I agree with you.
    He’s universally portrayed as someone unable to articulate a sentence without Dick Cheney whispering in his ear and someone completely impervious to anyone else’s opinion, so it’s worth pointing out when he does something to counter this.

  • guy herbert

    Dealing with the media is the stuff of modern politics, Paul. Bush’s greatest strength has always been there: he can project a folksy image that the voters trust, while not seeming to spin. Ken Clarke can do it in Britain, but not many can at all.

    So it is not brave of him to hold a press conference, it is his most powerful countermove to emphasise and reinforce his direct connection with the people at a time when his party has been rejected.

    What about choosing now to sack Rumsfeld? Is that brave? Doesn’t it signal that changes in foreign policy direction are determined by domestic politics rather than the merits of the case. W has hung on to Rummy despite all the criticisms of him which are implicitly addressed by the new appointment having been around for years.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Paul, sorry to pile on, but I don’t see Bush’s performance as particularly courageous. As Perry said, Brit pols are used to the rough and tumble of the Commons and regular grillings by the likes of Jeremy Paxman. There is nothing really similar in American politics, which is still in some ways a more deferential process, although that is changing a bit. Good.

    If Bush had real courage, he’d have sacked Rumsfeld at the time of the prison torture stories and vetoed a lot more spending items from Congress as well as standing up on issues like the Dubai ports issue, Schiavo, and so forth, rather than pandering to the religious right, etc.

    On a personal level, I am sure Dubya is quite likeable but his performance on the job has been poor. The only good thing about Bush really is that he gets up the noses of the far left, but as someone else said, he is a Big Government man and objectively, the left must approve of quite a lot of what he has done, but they probably lack the guts to say so openly.

  • James of England

    When British politicians do it, it’s almost always in a room filled with their cheering and supportive backers as well as their opponents. Even when they’re in awful straights, it’s an environment they are familiar with and it is a lot more good natured. There is also generally less disection of what is said. In a large number of ways, this strikes me as more courageous than anything British politicians go through.

  • Paul Marks

    I agree with Guy Herbert about Donald Rumsfeld.

    Gates sounds fairly useless, someone who was on the “analytical” side of the C.I.A. (i.e. the people who read the New York Times and other establishment media outlets and then mix and alter the articles a bit and pretend their work is “intelligence analysis”).

    There are decent people with a C.I.A. background (for example agents that have noticed that the Iranians keep trying to kill them – and destroy America and the rest of the West), but they do not tend to be “back room boys” (and they do not tend to be promoted – let alone right up the chain all the way to Director).

    The speech in 2004 was wildly misguided (the Iranian regime wishes to exterminate the West – did Gates learn nothing from the effort to “reach out to Iranian moderates” under President Reagan?). I hope that Mr Gates has greatly changed his views since 2004. Perhaps he will surprise me and be a great head of the Department of Defence.

    “It does no harm to talk to your enemies” (James Baker) – sorry, it often does very great harm.

    There is often a case for not going on the offensive (simply protecting the homeland as best as one can – and resisting any attack) it is not always true that “attack is the best from of defence”. But talks raise expectations (on the Western side – the enemies of the West have no need to fear the media and other such) and expectations give rise to deals – and deals end badly.

    I can see a case for the classic isolationist “pull back and defend the homeland” position (although it is a bit late for that once a war has started – then one has to try and WIN). But there is no case at all for “talks” – that is the path to such things as Paris accords (in the case of Vietnam) and all the other deals with the enemies of the West (deals that tend to end very badly).

    However, there was no choice about Rumsfeld leaving. He was spending much of his time under siege anyway (and he admitted that it was harmfull – I watched him an hour long press conference a few weeks ago).

    With the Democrats in charge (and Bush knew they might take the House – although the Senate was a real surprise for him) Donald Rumsfeld would have spent most of his time on Captial Hill being insulted by various committees.

    He would have had to try and run the Department of Defence in his spare time – how would that work?

    Before leaving Donald Rumsfeld – I was rather unhappy that Fox cut off his last speech in order to go over to the death of a C.B.S. journalist (an African American with what looked like an ear ring). But still D.R. is already old news (such is the world).

    As for Bush not being brave. If it is the old “he dodged Vietnam” stuff again – the Air National Guard was hardly safe (lots of pilots crashed and were killed in the time he was in it – and there was always the chance of being moved to Vietnam). And of course the young George Walker Bush “wanted to fly jets” – whether he would have passed the tests for either the Navy or regular Air Force pilots is a moot point.

    If a well off person wanted to avoid Vietnam he could simply stay on various education courses (although that seems to be what the Vice President actually did).

    However – most of you SIMPLY HAVE NOT READ WHAT I WROTE.

    When one has just lost an election the last thing one wants to do is to reply to questions (especially from one’s enemies).

    To stand for the best part of an hour doing this takes a lot of guts – and if you do not know that, well you should know. One wants to go into a dark room and speak to nobody.

    As for me being a G.O.P “lickspittle” (with all I have said about Bush and the rest of the Republicans over the years – indeed in the very article that the coment was on) – well I love you to sweetheart.

  • And, despite my concern at being described as Paul Marks’s “lickspittle”, it is a pity that Josh (“Wild Pegasus”) has decided to abandon the insightful comments he once left on Samizdata threads. He has become increasingly shrill of late; to the point of downright rudeness and discourtesy as witnessed on this thread. This reflects very poorly on Josh. As for exhorting Mr Marks to “grow up” – physician, heal thyself!

  • guy herbert

    To stand for the best part of an hour doing this takes a lot of guts – and if you do not know that, well you should know. One wants to go into a dark room and speak to nobody.

    That’s because you haven’t the right personality to be a politician. I suspect the last thing most politicians would want to do is to go into a dark room and speak to nobody. I would myself much rather take an hour of tough questions in public (not in private, though – the first is to be the centre of attention, a gladiator; the second mere humiliation and subordination to the questioners), than be left on my own to reflect on failure. Politicians are usually extraverts who wonder whether they might not exist if nobody is around to take notice of them.

  • RAB

    I have always thought that Bush was rather like a trained surgeon, who, unfortunately had a shakey hand and couldn’t stand the sight of blood.
    I saw a documentary of the time just before he won the first election. Flying round the USA in that last minute whistle stop thing getting out the vote.
    The private shots on the aircraft or in hotel suites show a Bush of intellegence charm, and a certain wit.
    Cut to a shot of him making a live speechification type thing and it’s foot in the mouth time from the first line.
    Bush’s biggest mistake was trust.
    He trusted those around him to tell him the truth and know what they were doing. They didn’t.
    Alas I think, like Jimmy Carter, Bush never should have become a politician in the first place.

  • “it is hard to imagine anything happening that will advance the cause of limited government.”
    So you think the Republicans have limited government under the present administration? Interesting point of view. Wrong……but interesting.

    “I would expect any nominee to fail, unless they are a squishy statist who is willing to yammer on about how the Constitution is a living document.”
    Good thing the Constitution is a living document or we would still have slavery, women couldn’t vote, and your friends wouldn’t be able to bring up amendments to ban gay marriage, have prayer in school, or stop the buring of the flag.

    “Expect investigations out the wazoo, which should paralyze the executive branch (not that that would take much) and the intelligence community (hmm, bug or feature?) and produce lots of political theater, but in the end it will all signify nothing.”
    Are you describing the Democrats here or Tom Delay and the Impeachment of President Clinton?

    “The presumptive chair, Alcee Hastings, belongs to a very exclusive club – federal judges who were impeached and removed from office for corruption. If Pelosi gives him the job, then look for a wild ride for two years, because the inmates will truly be running the asylum.”
    Is this the best fear mongering you can do?

  • Paul Marks

    “The Constitution is a living document” – so it is alright for the Supreme Court to say that the 13th Amendment does not forbid slavery? Is that what you mean James Cook?

    “The Constitution is a living document” is just code for what the Constitution says does not matter. That attitude is (I agree) useful for getting round things you may not like (such as the 2nd Amendment of the 10th Amendment) but it can also be useful for negating things in the Constitution that you do like – such as slavery being forbidden or women having the vote.

    “Living document” does not mean amendments Mr Cook – it means the right of Supreme Court judges to “interpret” (out of existance) bits of the Constitutional the powerful do not happen to like.

    As for the Republicans being big spending sell outs – I agree.

    However, I think the Democrats will be even worse (they will also be worse on taxes and regulations).

    I base this I what they have said and what they have written (and how leading Democrats have voted in the past).

    Why should I not believe them?

  • Paul Marks

    Guy Herbert is still ignoring my point that British politicians do not make a common practice of replying to hostile questions for the best part of an hour just after losing an election.

    I can only assume that Mr Herbert is deliberatly refusing to understand what I wrote. Fair enough.