Saturday, November 22, 2003

A free and open media

Why doesn't Bush like to travel overseas? One reason is that he actually has to answer questions posed by foreign reporters (rather than being able to outsource this to a spindoctor), and he has far less control over who those reporters are and what they might ask.

So in London yesterday, Bush got asked the question no member of the American media would dare ask him back home: "Why do people hate you"? And his "answer"? Avoidance, denial, an attempt to claim that anyone who disagrees with him hates freedom and loves Saddam, and some macho posturing for good measure:

Mr. President, if I could ask you, with thousands on the street...marching today here in London, a free nation, what is your conclusion as to why apparently so many free citizens fear you and even hate you?"

"I'd say freedom is beautiful, Bush responded. "It's a fantastic thing to come to a country where people are able to express their views."

Pressed on the question of why people hate him "in such numbers," Bush said he doesn't know that they do hate him.

"I fully understand that people don't agree with war," President Bush said. "I hope they agree with peace and freedom and liberty. I hope they care deeply about the fact that when we find suffering and torture and mass graves, we weep for the citizens that are being brutalized by tyrants.

"And finally, the prime minister and I have a solemn duty to protect our people. And that's exactly what I intend to do - as the president of the United States, protect the people of my country."

No wonder he avoids press conferences like the plague.