This final press conference was truly remarkable, especially when you think back on his previous performances. I remember semi-live-blogging one such event which spurred none other than Bill Kristol to remark that Bush lacked leadership. It was the one where he ducked every other question and refused to admit any mistakes cuz it wasn't a written question given to him in advance, linked 9/11 to Iraq, commanders on the ground ... 9/11 ... terrorism ... war footing ... 9/11 ... WMDs ... 9/11 -- you know the drill.
What? It doesn't ring any bells and sounds like all his other press conferences? Yeah, me too. That's why I gave up live-blogging Bush's press conferences. That's not to say there weren't interesting snippets here and there when an unscripted POTUS was in front of old "Stretch" and the gang -- like the time he admitted he could "speak more truthfully" right after the '06 election and canning Rummy -- not that he ever did. He'd first have to be truthful with himself, and that'll never happen.
But today was different, not just for the historical significance. Bush was resigned to his fate, his guard down, no agenda to push, no lies to sell. Nevertheless, lies he did tell as Rachel Maddow documents so very well in these two segments (just click the links, I hate the way MSNBC does their embeds):
Video: Special Report: Gitmo
Jan. 12: Lame Duck Special Report: During his last press conference as president, Bush blamed other countries for problems related to Guantanamo Bay and disagreed that abuses at the prison have damaged America’s moral standing in the world. Rachel Maddow is joined by lead defense counsel Major David J.R. Frakt, who represents some prisoners. (MSNBC)
Video: Special Report: Katrina
Jan. 12: Lame Duck Special Report: At President Bush’s last press conference as president, he defended the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Not only that, President Bush left out the National Guard and FEMA when talking about the federal response. Rachel Maddow is joined by former Times-Picayune city editor Jed Horne (MSNBC)
The Katrina piece is especially poignant yet compelling, a point-by-point time-line of debunkature. Keith Olbermann does his normally excellent job and sets the record straight despite Shrub's best attempts to rewrite history -- predictably failing as usual.
Watching the presser live, it will come to no surprise to friends, family and anyone who reads my blog on a semi-regular basis that I found myself, again, yelling at my TV. I was pretty incensed at Bush's take on the Katrina debacle which Olbermann aptly described as deflecting criticism to his decision on where to hold the photo-op being his most important contribution.
Classic Bush, knocking down strawmen. It was reminiscent of deflecting a question years ago about being greeted as liberators, oil revenue paying for the war and not finding WMDs with the non-sequitur: "First, the lesson of September the 11th is that when this nation sees a threat, a gathering threat, we got to deal with it." No acknowlegement to this day that people were stranded at the Superdome with no food or water for days -- and no way out. No talk of "lessons learned" about levies and infrastructure, coordination of emergency response or rebuilding efforts.
No one has ever sugested that the Coast Guard and Navy were anything short of remarkable in their heroic efforts to airlift rooftop refugees. When you concentrate the lion's share of a society's resources to the military, you should expect no less. The lack of civilian agency competence with comparable merit is equally predictable.
My final memory of this final press appearance was Bush's rebuke of the idea that the Presidency is a burden, the loneliest job on the planet. Not the way Bush handled it. Arrogant, uncaring of consequences or criticism, belligerent and ignorant -- all the while logging over a year's worth of "vacation" time (more than any previous White House occupant) and never receiving an intelligence briefing on Sunday. I'd think the job was a piece of cake too if I kept those hours, and didn't give a damn whether anything I did mattered.
Good riddance you piece of shit.