I think my favorite part might be when Bush stops speaking, Coleman says something, and then he testily gives another round of "Let me finish!"
Several aspects are striking. It's refreshing to see the sadly rare sight of someone just not buying the bullshit Bush is selling. Bush acts as if Coleman is being rude, when his own behavior is brusque, and his answers are themselves insulting, because they are so simplistic, misleading, non-responsive or flatly false. I think Bush actually believes much of the crap he's shilling here. But it's interesting that he's positively indignant that anyone could possibly view things differently – and that he would have to converse with them. His bubble has always been pretty strong, exactly as he and his handlers have wanted. Most of all, this interview shows a Bush who simply cannot believe that someone would dare ask him to speak as an adult to adults about important matters.
Of course, this is far from the only time we've seen this side of Bush. You may remember the video of then candidate Bush, quizzed on foreign leaders back in 1999:
He doesn't know, it sure seems like he doesn't give a shit that he doesn't know, and he's pissed that anyone expects him to know or has the gall to ask. That, and a number of other incidents, should have made our mainstream journalists sound the alarm bells rather than making excuses for Bush's ignorance. It's not as if Bush has ever hit the books since, either. But then, who needs to know basic facts about a country, even months after one's decided to invade it, or respond to urgent national security threats?
Bush also got very testy with NBC's Richard Engel earlier this year when Engel pushed him. Dan Froomkin has a very good rundown on the interview and the White House's attempted retribution in "The President vs. the Peacock" (we covered this interview and Bush's denials earlier in "Brave Cowboys of the Junior High Lunch Room").
Here's the full, unedited 15 minute interview:
Via Froomkin's piece, here's the edited version NBC aired, the same unedited version NBC posted on their own website for viewers, and the White House's transcript. I'll also throw in Engel's teaser piece and Keith Olbermann on Countdown evaluating the White House's attacks on Engel and NBC over the piece. (I'm also reminded of journalist Nir Rosen discussing "the surge" with persistent hawk Frederick Kagan.)
As Froomkin observed:
It doesn't take a trained psychologist to observe that Bush got angrier and angrier as the Engel interview went on. That obviously had nothing to do with the editing; it had to do with Engel's questions.
Bush typically sits down with interviewers from Fox News -- or, more recently, Politico-- where he can count on more than his share of ingratiating softballs. But Engel, a fluent Arabic speaker who has logged more time in Iraq than any other television correspondent, assertively confronted Bush with the ramifications of his actions in the Middle East.
When Bush doesn't get petulant over serious questions, his other chief dodge is to joke his way out. For just one example, here's a college student asking Bush whether the Uniform Code of Military Justice applies to military contractors in Iraq back in 2006.
Bush is entitled to his views, of course. But the public is entitled to serious answers. If Bush wants to make the case for war, or continued occupation, fine, but let him make it honestly. Let him do it seriously. Let him actually address realities rather than painting rosy fantasies and offering trite slogans. It's a grave problem that Bush, his administration and his allies have implemented such dangerous and disastrous policies, and it's a grave problem they've offered so much bullshit in their rhetoric. Bush leaving office can't come soon enough. But we still have the media to deal with regardless. Kudos to those like Engel and Coleman, but as a whole journalists in America have not followed their lead. They have not made Bush and his allies ever have to make a honest and serious case for virtually anything. Bullshit, even when it cost hundreds of thousands of lives, depletes our resources and devastates our economy, is still perfectly acceptable to them.
(A typical hard-hitting MSM interview of our serious preznit.)
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)