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Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I think Dubya set some sort of record today.

The prez announced a couple of executive branch nominations today, and took a few questions from the press afterwards. What amazed me was how much sidestepping, evasion, and misinformation Dubya was able to stick into such a small number of answers. And, in a surprise move, he also managed to deliver a summation of his entire presidency. [We point that summation out below.]

To show you what I mean — and to show you how to read the presidential tea leaves — here's most of Dubya's Q&A with the press, along with my translations:

Q Sir, when you talk about Iran, and you talk about how you have diplomatic efforts, you also say all options are on the table. Does that include the possibility of a nuclear strike? Is that something that your administration will plan for?

THE PRESIDENT: All options are on the table. We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so.


[Translation: You bet we're considering the use of nuclear weapons. I keep telling you I'm a 'war president,' don't I?

The best way to do so is, therefore, to be a united effort with countries who recognize the danger of Iran having a nuclear weapon. And that's why we're working very closely with countries like France and Germany and Great Britain. I intend, of course, to bring the subject of Iranian ambitions to have a nuclear weapon with Hu Jintao this Thursday. And we'll continue to work diplomatically to get this problem solved.

[Translation: I've been twisting the arms of our 'allies' to support using a nuclear threat against Iran, but they all think the plan is f'n nuts. I'm going to bring this up with the Chinese later this week, but they think the plan is f'n nuts, too. But who needs allies anyway. I'll just go it alone in Iran. After all, that worked in Iraq, didn't it?]

[...]

Q Morning, Mr. President. Do you expect that there will be some changes that were not voluntary? Today, you've highlighted openings in your administration, but will Mr. Bolten ask some people to leave? And would you accept his counsel for Cabinet changes, as well as White House staffers?

THE PRESIDENT: I understand this is -- you know, this is a matter of high speculation here in Washington. It's the game of musical chairs, I guess you'd say, that people love to follow.


[Translation: You press folks have done a great job of picking up all the deliberate leaks that have been coming from the White House. Keep up the good work.]

My instructions to Josh Bolten was that I expect him to design a White House structure so that it will function so that he can do his job, function in a way so he's more likely to be able to do his job. And of course, he will bring different recommendations to me as to who should be here and who should not be here.

[Translation: I've asked Bolten to do all the dirty work so that I can keep my hands clean and be able to deny responsibility for any bad appointments. Anyway, you can't expect me to keep track of all those details. It wouldn't be, uh, presidential.]

And I'm the person who believes in aligning authority and responsibility. I've given him enormous responsibility and authority, and expect the White House to work well. And it did under Andy Card, by the way. I'm most proud of his tenure as the Chief of Staff. But with a new man will come some changes. And Josh has got all the rights to make those recommendations to me. And of course I listen to advice as to my Cabinet, as well. I must tell you that I'm -- I've got strong confidence in my Cabinet officials, all of them, and I appreciate the service they've rendered.

[Translation: You can expect more cabinet resignations any time now.]

But I also understand what happens in Washington. You know, a little flicker of gossip starts moving hard, and people jump all over it. The thing the American people have got to know is we'll structure this White House so it continues to function to deal with major problems. And we're dealing with major problems. We're dealing with a war on terror, we're dealing with high gasoline prices.

[Translation: Don't expect the new appointees to be any better than the old appointees. But do expect me to keep pointing to the war on terror every time I get criticized over bad decisions I've made. After all, criticizing me is given aid and comfort to al-Qaeda.

Oh, and I hear that the little people are having to pay a lot for gas these days.]

And let me remind people that these high gasoline prices are caused by primarily three reasons:

[Translation: High gas prices are not my fault. You really don't expect me to ask my pals in the oil companies to make less money, would you?]

One, the increase in the price of crude oil. It's one of the reasons I stood up in front of the Congress and said, we've got to have strong and active research and development to get us to diversify away from crude oil. It's tight supply worldwide, and we've got increasing demand from countries like India and China, which means that any disruption of supply or perceived disruption of supply is going to cause the price of crude to go up. And that affects the price of gasoline.

[Translation: I told you, it's not my fault.]

Secondly, there's increasing demand. At this time of year people are beginning to drive more, getting out on the highways, taking a little time off, and they're moving around. And that increasing demand is also part of the reason the price of gasoline is going up.

{Translation: Not only is it not my fault, it's your fault.]

And, thirdly, we're switching fuel mixes. The summer fuel mix is different from state to state, and is different from what is being used in the winter. And, therefore, the combination of these creates higher gasoline prices. And I'm concerned about higher gasoline prices. I'm concerned what it means to the working families and small businesses, and I'm also mindful that the government has the responsibility to make sure that we watch very carefully, and to investigate possible price gouging. And we'll do just that.

[Translation: Didn't you hear me, it's not my fault! Besides, I feel your pain. Isn't that good enough?]

Q Is there going to be rationing, do you think?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I don't -- that's your word.


[Translation: Yes. Definitely. We're already printing the ration books.]

Q Mr. President, you've made it a practice of not commenting on potential personnel moves --

THE PRESIDENT: Of course I did.


[Translation: What do you expect? I don't tell the truth about anything else, do I?]

Q -- of calling it speculation --

THE PRESIDENT: You can understand why, because we've got people's reputations at stake. And on Friday I stood up and said, I don't appreciate the speculation about Don Rumsfeld; he's doing a fine job, I strongly support him.


[Translation: I've already picked Rummy's replacement.]

Q But what do you say to critics who believe that you're ignoring the advice of retired generals, military commanders, who say that there needs to be a change?

THE PRESIDENT: I say, I listen to all voices, but mine is the final decision.


[Translation: Who the hell are those generals and commanders to tell the war president what to do?]

And Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror. He's helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld.

[Translation: Didn't you hear me? Rumsfeld is history!]

I hear the voices,

[Translation: I get my instructions directly from the Almighty.]

and I read the front page,

[Translation: I have the front page read to me. Some of those words are really big.]

and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best.

[Translation: Oops! I really didn't mean to tell you why things are so screwed up in the country. Forget I said that, okay?]


And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense.

[Translation: Rumsfeld? I don't think there's anyone named Rumsfeld in my administration. Why do you keep bringing up that name?]

To save space, I left out the question and answer about the recent bombing in Israel [which also contains some good evasions]. If you want to read Dubya's full remarks to the press, go over here.

| | Posted by Magpie at 11:01 AM | Get permalink




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