Friday, June 24, 2005

Bush Isn't Rude, He's Just Clueless

Bush and Jaafari's joint news conference ended with a question to Jaafari by an Iraqi reporter. The reporter made it really, really clear who the question was for:

Mr. Prime Minister, I am a presenter on radio in Iraq. My question is for you. For more than two years we've started a change in Iraq, but the process of building is very slow. There are secure cities in Iraq, Samarra and Kurdistan. When will you begin the reconstruction in Iraq? When do we begin to establish the first bases of reconstruction? And you know that if you started reconstruction in Iraq it will mean that young people will have something to do, and they will leave terrorist activities. So the question is for Mr. Prime Minister. There were discussions held with the President Bush, and the most important thing you discussed with him we want to know about it.

The questioner begins the question by addressing the Prime Minister. But, as though it occurred to him that there might be someone listening to him who is really, really slow, he repeats the point: "the question is for Mr. Prime Minister."

So what happens next? Bush jumps in and says:

Sometimes we don't tell you things, you know.

No, we discussed a lot of important things. We discussed democracy, we discussed having the constitution there, and we discussed security, we discussed reconstruction.

We are spending reconstruction money, but, you know, you need to ask that to the government. They're in charge. It's your government, not ours. This is the government that is -- that has got the ministries in place that spends the money. We're willing to help, and we have helped. And I want to thank the Congress and the American people for their generosity in helping Iraq rebuild. And we're spending money.

But, remember, your question kind of made it seem like -- that we're in charge. We're not. You had elections; 8.5 million people voted, and this good man is now in charge of the government. I don't want to be passing the buck, as we say, but we're more than willing to help reconstruction efforts, but this is a sovereign government --

PRIME MINISTER JAAFARI: Thank you, very much.

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- with an elected Prime Minister by the people of Iraq. And so we want to look forward to working with the government. Our role is to help. His role is to govern and lead. And we've got the money allocated. Obviously, it's important to get electricity to the Iraqi citizens and clean water to the Iraqi citizens. And, you know, I was pleased to see the other day when I was reading that there's a lot of air traffic in and out of the airport now, quite a lot of air traffic. In other words, there's commerce beginning to develop. We want to be helpful. But the responsibility rests with the people who the Iraqi people elected. And that's you, Mr. Prime Minister.

When Bush jumped in to answer the question, rather than letting the Prime Minister go first, I cringed at the sight of our President having such a huge ego that he couldn't wait for Jaafari to answer the question before making his own comments about it. But then we got to, "You need to ask that to the government." Uh, Mr. Bush, the questioner did ask the government.

Hopefully, Iraqi's will conclude that Bush didn't intentionally upstage their prime minister and that Bush's answer was not intended to be patronizing even though it sounded that way. But wouldn't it be nice if we had a president who could hold a joint press conference without leaving us hoping that foreigners will forgive his screwups?


Post a Comment

<< Home