Tom Shales, the Washington Post
media analyst, tells us that George Bush’s is a cocky, arrogant smile. Consequently,
he ripped what was actually a pretty good State of the Union performance
and a very solid speech. Bush was taunting people, whines Shales, who apparently
cannot abide Bush defending himself or his administration.
In fact, other than giving a little hell to terrorists and a few Democratic
back-benchers (by way of policy differences), Bush was mostly handing out
praise: to our military, to the American people, to our allies. Here is how
Shales reported it:
speech was pretty much so-so, and Bush's gung-ho delivery -- something approaching
the forced jollity of a game show host -- lacked dignity and certainly lacked
graciousness. Bush has never been big on those things anyway.
Rather of CBS News, who sometimes goes out of his way not to upset the Bush
people -- since they are all ready to pounce on him for what they perceive
(or claim to perceive) as a bias against their exalted glorious potentate
-- said afterward that Bush's was 'a strong speech, strongly delivered.'
It was one of the few times Rather sounded less than astute.
contrary, it might be one of the few times Rather tried to be fair because
Bush actually made a compelling case for both his economic and his foreign
policy decisions. He has been mostly right about taxes. He was right to topple
Saddam. And he was right to tell the nation there are chapters still to be
written on the war on terrorism, sorry to say. He continues to surprise us
with both his toughness and his compassion. Did you ever expect a Republican
president to advocate a second chance program for released criminals? His
immigration work program makes much sense.
Bush could part the Red Sea and liberals in the media would complain about
the dislocation of fish. Things that other presidents do routinely are presented
as glaringly arrogant when Bush does them. Things Bush does that are unique
or moving are immediately reduced to the commonplace. There is always a way
to make the worst case against this president, especially for those determined
to scuttle a second Bush term. A few of examples might suffice.
Bush gets on an aircraft carrier to shake hands with soldiers and to
thank them for their service. He jostles with them, has a little fun, banters.
A Democrat in the same situation might have been applauded for his common
touch. (Though many Democrats would lack Bush’s comfort with the military.)
Bush is accused of grandstanding and even disrespecting the military. Go
· Bush slips into Iraq during Thanksgiving, an act of singular symbolism
and drama. He delivers one of the greatest one-liners of the year – I was
looking for a warm meal -- and transformed a forgotten mess hall in Iraq
into the scene of one of the great dramatic moments of the year. Even the
media, momentarily, was dazed by the president’s timing and courage. But
it did not take them long to regain their balance. Within an hour or two
of the first reports, there were claims that it was a reckless decision or
that Karl Rove was trying to upstage Hillary Clinton, who was doing her own
tour of duty through the region. I thought it was pretty damned cool.
There are reports of Bush showing deep and sincere compassion for wounded
soldiers returning from Iraq, but these images rarely wind up on the cover
of magazines, or on national television, and thus never sear themselves into
the heart of the American public. Yet, how many pictures did we see of John
Kennedy walking down the beach, in deep contemplation about the problems
confronting the world? Or of Clinton doing same in one fashion or another?
More likely, both were contemplating their next adulterous encounters with
a female companion. But they got hero treatment. Bush gets hammered.
· In his three years as president, I have never heard or read
of the president uttering a single negative personal comment about any Democrat
or world leader except in the context of a policy discussion or debate. Like
Reagan, he has refused to engage in the politics of personal destruction,
to use his predecessor’s phrase (his predecessor was the expert in that very
sort of politics, by the way.) Yet it is the president who is repeatedly
called cocky, arrogant, a liar. He has been accused of saying things he never
said, and making claims he never made. In fact, it is the president’s accusers
who are lying when they claim that Bush lied to the American people about
weapons of mass destruction, about connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam
or about the reasons for toppling the regime in Baghdad. It isn’t hard to
figure out. Just go back and read what the president actually said. And also
read what every reputable world leader believed about Iraq’s behavior.
What is at work here is not hard to figure out. Among the liberal press corps
(yes, I am generalizing), only Democrats are allowed to be “great” presidents
or men. FDR, Truman, JFK, even Clinton, have all been lionized to one degree
or another. There is the occasional Republican who cannot be denied his moment,
say a Reagan after being shot, or a Buckley who was too smart to be dismissed.
But mainly grace, intellect and political brilliance are reserved for Democrats
and liberals. And so we have this from Mr. Shales, in the same State of the
best reaction shots were those of Ted Kennedy, whose stature seems to grow
right along with his nose year after year after year. Kennedy has now reached
a grand moment in the life of a senator; he looks like Hollywood itself cast
him in the role. Seriously. With that waving mane of bright white hair, he
evokes memories of Claude Rains looking distinguished as all get-out in Frank
Capra's once-controversial, now-classic movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
Never mind that the senator played by Rains had some shady dealings in his
looked great, like he was ready to take his place next to Jefferson on Mount
Rushmore. He gives off the kind of venerable vibes that some of us got from
an Everett Dirksen way back when, or a Charles Laughton -- oh wait, Laughton
was a make-believe senator, too (in "Advise and Consent").
Mount Rushmore? His stature growing? This juxtaposition with all the harsh
words leveled at Bush pretty much sums up the nonsense that passes for commentary
among our liberal establishment. I suspect many Americans might agree with
me that Kennedy actually looked like the ungrateful, corrupt and washed up
politician he has always been.
Email George Shadroui
I don’t mean to suggest that the president is not vulnerable on some points.
He does muddle his words from time to time. And his instinctive grin does
suggest a bit of swagger that drives liberals ballistic. He could be a better
diplomat. (Bear in mind that this quality of candor, detested in Bush, was
celebrated in Harry Truman as “plain-talking” and “no nonsense.”) Nor is
Bush patient, at times, with the rituals of deference required by the media.
Jack Kennedy excelled at being playful with the press, and thus successfully
manipulated them to cover up many of his personal and policy failures. Bush
can be defensive when faced with direct questions, for he has the temperament
of a CEO, not a pundit or intellectual.
Even so, what probably most annoys the media is that Bush, like Reagan, really
doesn’t care much what they think. He will take his case directly to the
electorate that he and his administration have risen to the challenges of
our nation. He surely is more right than his critics want to concede. He
has responded with focus, courage and conviction to a difficult recession,
an unprecedented attack on our country and an almost non-stop political assault
(because he dared to win a close election). We will probably find out, once
he leaves office, that he reads more than he gets credit for, too. After
all, Kennedy paid people to read and write his books and he was hailed as
our brightest president. Reagan wrote his own correspondence, often witty
and erudite, and he was portrayed as a dunce.
When John Kerry smiles, he looks goofy. When Dick Gephardt, a good man by
all accounts, tries to whip up a crowd, he comes off a little stiff. When
George Bush smiles, he turns up his mouth in a way that betrays a hint of
something that drives liberals mad. On such issues, apparently, does the
future of the Republic rest. At least, that is what Tom Shales would have
Shadroui has been published in more than two
dozen newspapers and magazines, including National Review and Frontpagemag.com.
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