Sunday, February 10, 2008

Political Prognostication

Maybe I'm not the best at it (Louisiana is Hillary Country!), but you know whose thoughts I really don't care about? George W. Bush's!:
The president weighed in on the Democratic race, saying it "seems far from over to me." And he rejected criticism of former President Clinton's work on the campaign trail for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

"I can understand why President Clinton wants to campaign hard for his wife. And those accusations that Bill Clinton's a racist, I think is just wrong. I just don't agree with it."

As for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Bush said, "I certainly don't know what he believes in."

It ranges from inane (the race is far from over!) to meaningless (I didn't realize anybody said Bill Clinton's a racist. I do recall them saying he made a cheap-shot attack, which is not the same thing.) to smear (maybe Obama's thoughts are just on a higher plane than yours, chimpanzee boy).

Also, on McCain's travails with conservatives:
Asked about some leading conservative pundits who oppose McCain's nomination, Bush said, "I think that if John's the nominee, he's got some convincing to do to convince people that he is a solid conservative. And I'd be glad to help him if he's the nominee."

I'm sure McCain can't wait for 26% to start stumping for him.


Anonymous said...

These truisms from Bush don't require brilliance:

- The Democratic race "seems far from over to me."
- "accusations that Bill Clinton's a racist, I think [are] just wrong,"
- "I certainly don't know what [Obama] believes in."

(Hey, Obama himself fills up entire speeches with such mind-numbingly obvious truisms, and some call it inspiring.)

david d

PG said...

david d,

"I certainly don't know what [Obama] believes in" may be a "truism" for Bush, but most people would be slightly embarrassed to admit that they have no idea what the basic positions of one of the two major political parties are.

Every well-educated conservative whom I know is aware of Obama's positions and doesn't like them because they are what one called "unreconstructed liberalism," i.e. the traditional positions of the modern Democratic Party:
support for labor, pro-choice, equal rights for minorities, tax the wealthy, suspicious of large corporations (this position dates back to the Dem Party's origins), etc.

But God bless our president, he has never evidenced the slightest shame about being ignorant and incurious. As far as I know, Obama never proudly tells people that he's completely ignorant about a subject with which he ought to have some familiarity. So the idea that he's put forth a similar "truism" about himself is one that I'd like to see some evidence to support.

If by "truism" you mean that Obama says stuff about how hope and unity are better than fear and division, well sure. And America is still a "shining city on a hill," eh? (At least Obama's speechwriters mostly seem to come up with their own trademark phrases instead of nicking them from John Winthrop.)

david s.,

You might want to read the full interview with Bush rather than just the bits that blog picked out.

For example, in offering his support to McCain, Bush was responding to a question about how Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter had been railing against him. These are the kind of Republicans who still support Bush and who base part of their ire against McCain in his apostasies from Bush (vote against 2001 tax cut; anti-torture; etc.). Therefore if Bush is telling them, "Enough of that, time to fall in line," those people might calm down.

Regarding what he said about Obama:
WALLACE: Do you think there's a rush to judgment about Barack Obama. Do you think voters know enough about him?

BUSH: I certainly don't know what he believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he's going to attack Pakistan and break the Mani Mijad (ph). I think (INAUDIBLE) that in a press conference.

WALLACE: I hope not. But so you don't think that we know enough about him or what he stands...

BUSH: It doesn't seem like it to me, but this campaign is plenty of time for candidates to get defined. He has yet (ph) his party's nominee.

WALLACE: So why do you think he's gotten this far if people don't know what he stands for?

BUSH: You're the pundit. I'm just a simple president.

I will give Bush credit for not taking the bait on this one:
WALLACE: I want to follow up on that. Whether it is interrogation of terror prisoners or the intercepting of surveillance among al Qaeda members, are you ever puzzled by all of the concern in this country about protecting of rights of people who want to kill us?

BUSH: That is an interesting way to put it. I wouldn't necessarily define some of the critics of my policy that way. I would say that they want to be very careful that we don't overstep our bounds from protecting the civil liberties of Americans.

One odd thing in the transcript -- can't tell if it's a typo in transcribing Wallce's words or not.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about one specific area, following up.

And the idea is that the principles you advanced were in at least some cases undermined by the way they were executed.

Cory Shockey (ph), who was a professor at West Point and served on your National Security Council, wrote this. "I fear that the biggest foreign policy legacy of the Bush administration will be that it delegitimized its own strategy, whether you're talking about the democratization agenda, or the idea of preventive war and regime change." He says that, in other words, after Iraq, that the country would not permit another preventive war even if we should have one.

BUSH: Well, I don't know whether this person — sorry, I don't know who that person is. She may have worked for me but I don't think she ever worked in the Oval Office.

If Bush doesn't know who Kori Schake is, how did he know it was a she rather than the "he" that, according the rush transcript, Wallace mentioned?

Anyway, all in all I actually kind of give Bush props for the Fox News interview. Admittedly it was in a congenial environment, but I think he's really improved in articulating his beliefs without having them on a teleprompter in front of him.