Saturday, March 01, 2008

Bush flummoxed, Hillary aides stumped

We interrupt your leisure time to bring you the latest chapter in the Lame Duck Chronicles.

While finally getting the chance to scan the transcript of President Bush's Thursday press conference, I was struck by his response to the question about rising gasoline prices. Economic analysts, as well as spokespeople at AAA, have been predicting that the '08 price of a gallon in some states could hit close to $4. This has been well reported, but, not surprisingly, one particular person didn't have a clue:

Q: "What's your advice to the average American who is hurting now, facing the prospect of $4 a gallon gasoline, a lot of people facing -- "

THE PRESIDENT: "Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4 a gallon gasoline?"

Q: "A number of analysts are predicting -- "

THE PRESIDENT: "Oh, yeah?"

Q: " -- $4 a gallon gasoline this spring when they reformulate."

THE PRESIDENT: "That's interesting. I hadn't heard that."

If Bush wants to at least appear to be in touch with the concerns of the average American (who, unlike Bush, needs to fill a car tank on a regular basis), he might request that his aides beef up his briefing books. Failing that, maybe he should borrow the index card that his father used on the stump in 1992. It was a reminder that the senior Bush needed to exude empathy. The card said simply, "Message: I Care."


A priceless moment yesterday, during a conference call between Hillary Clinton aides and reporters:

In the wake of the new Clinton TV ad - one of those "red phone" motifs, where we're asked to believe that this is the candidate best equipped to handle a 3 a.m. national security crisis - a reporter asked, "What foreign policy moment would you point to in Hillary's career where she's been tested by crisis?"

Had somebody hit the mute button? The three aides were tongue-tied for six long seconds. Finally, strategist Mark Penn said this:

"Well (throat clearing), I think that she has been tested, you know, throughout her life, uh, in so many matters. I think that she, again, has the experience and the strength that people see through her work on the Armed Services Committee, uh, and her work extensively on the military matters. I think it was a moment of test when she was in China (in 1995) and stood up and said women's rights are human rights, that she showed the kind of, the kind of, wisdom that it takes to know when to, when to, push basic elements, uh, basic elements in difficult circumstances. She has highlighted, you know, participated, in a number of international things."


"A foreign policy moment? Sorry, we're stumped."