Given that the President has held a record low for press conferences during his administration, the news that an impromptu question and answer period revolving around the announcement of a new Iraqi leader would occur this morning was greeted with hope by the myriad of reporters assembling at the White House.
The disappointing performance that followed left many, I am sure, feeling, "why did he bother?"
Technically speaking, the event was frustrating for viewers. The only live mike appeared to be on the podium and so questions asked by reporters were nearly inaudible. And since the President's reponses to all questions were practically interchangeable, it would have helped if either an aide or Mr. Bush himself had rephrased the questions before "answering" them.
Bush continues to employ a condescending and juvenile attitude toward members of the press, chastising them for their questions (as he did in an earlier conference when one addressed him as "sir" rather than "Mr. President"), berating one paper for asking a second question when, according to him, each news source was allowed to put foward only one question from its ranks and making comments about another reporter's suit and buttons.
Stuttering, inserting a multitudes of "uhs", repeating over and over again the same phrases about a free Iraq, staying the course, making Iraq an example in the Middle East, "latest reports from Afghanistan show people with a different expression on their faces", and a free Iraqi people, he brushed aside with irritation questions which sought to find out when the UN might act and what our arrangements with them might be. "You know the UN," he said, "Sometimes they move slow and sometimes they move fast. We wanna move fast."
I waited with curiousity to see if someone would ask about his display of Saddam's pistol. With only 35 minutes to work with, guess nobody wanted to waste their time on frivolty - or perhaps the reporters were all vetted first.
The big question remains . . . Where's the beef? What's the plan? Do we not discuss the nuts and bolts or the dust bunnies under the elaborate dust ruffle?
And it would help if we had a statesman in the White House who maintained a open and friendly demeanor, canned the irritation and fidgiting, and was capable of handling a turn of phrase and presenting his case without chasing his tail.
At about the 35 minute mark, Bush abruptly said goodbye, turned his back on the press corps and meandered into the White House.
Once again, it is painfully evident that G.W. Bush is no statesman.