April 13, 2004

Unpresidential Press Conference

What a performance! Stumbling, repetitive and content free. David Sirota has a point by point analysis of all the untruths in it. And Critical Viewer has the condensed version.

Among the mixed reviews gathered by the AP: "I feel sorry for him," said A.L. Reynolds, 68, a retired businessman from Chicago who described himself as an independent. "He has not answered one reporter's question, he has not apologized, he has an arrogant attitude and he's not going to change anyone's opinion with this speech. ... I feel very sorry for him and I'm scared for us."

It's great to see the press corps finally rediscovering their spines and asking some tougher questions. But the answers? Holy smokes! How do you respond to those who say that you never admit a mistake? Can you name something you wish you had done differently? In every case he deflected the question, blamed others, and showed himself to have no capacity to learn from experience or see things in other than black and white terms.

Such a tiny man. So completely inadequate for the office.

P.S. On a smaller scale, I experienced a direct encounter with the kind of thinking that drives this president earlier yesterday. I received an email filled with exclamation points warning me not to buy any Pepsi because their new cans had a patriotic theme that contained the Pledge of Allegiance with "under God" left off. That immediately sounded fishy, and a quick Google search revealed it to be an urban legend. I wrote to the person who sent me (and dozens of others) this warning as follows:

"I don’t know who you are, but you really should do some homework before raising the alarm. Simply by typing the words “Pepsi new can God” into Google you would have found this:

http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blpepsi-can.htm

To atone for your sin, you should forward this link to everyone you spammed with your first message. There’s enough to be concerned about these days without getting everyone riled up about something that isn’t real."

Within minutes she responded:

"I think that you calling an honest mistake such as that a "sin" and taking on the role of priest or pastor by dolling out "penance" is more nearly a "sin."  Furthermore, admittedly, there are many, many problems in the world today, and I think that if more people became willing to stand up and do something about them, rather than turning a blind eye (even if that means making a potential mistake) the world might become a better place."

That's it in a nutshell: don't admit a mistake, don't reverse course, don't pay attention to actual data. Something in our culture elevates steadfastness and good intentions above intelligence, flexibility and reflection. It explains both how Bush thinks and why, in spite of all his failures, he still has supporters.

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