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Harry Taylor, US Citizen of the Day
April 6, 2006 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Man tells President Bush that he should be ashamed of himself. Bushie has been touring the country talking to the people and the people have been talking back. Today he met with his toughest and most elequent angry citizen, one Mr. Harry Taylor who began with this salvo:

Q: You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question? (full transcript here)
posted by tsarfan (106 comments total)

 
also here
posted by Substrata at 5:32 PM on April 6, 2006


The very next (presumably scripted) question being: "[...] if the all-powerful granter of the presidential request were to visit you this evening and give you one of these three, of ongoing economic growth and security for America, ridding the world of the security threat now posed by North Korea and Iran, or establishing peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians..."

Three freakin' wishes. Appropriate, perhaps, given that none of them are in the realm of possibility.

I remember a skit from way back when, provenance unknown, that went something like "Mr Kissinger? Steve Felton, Sesame Street Gazette. If you could be any kind of animal...." A fun thing about the present is that it makes yesterday's comedy seem like reportage.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:32 PM on April 6, 2006


I listened to the whole thing on NPR today while driving in to the office. What struck me, despite the high number of "uh..." interuptions by Bush, was how well he diffused the situation. First, he used humor directed at himself, which then cast Harry Taylor in a different light, and made it harder for him to maintain a hard-charging statement without coming off as petty and mean. Then Bush dodged everything that Taylor brought up by concentrating on just the wiretapping portion of Taylor's statement. In so doing, he was able to make a long-winded statement about how he would not appologize for it, and how he thought it was constitutional, etc. In the listener's mind, this explanation dangerously overshadowed and began to address all of Taylor's objections. You were thus left with a litany of serious problems that Taylor raised, and which were all cleverly dismissed as non-issues by Bush. Despite being by all common appearances a blithering idiot, Bush is occasionally very dangerous, and he showed that side today. I would say Taylor blew his opportunity, but then on second thought, I don't think Taylor ever had a chance. After all, truly dangerous question askers or statement makers would never be allowed into a Bush audience.
posted by nlindstrom at 5:41 PM on April 6, 2006


I like this quote, from Bush's answer:

THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to start off with what you first said, if you don't mind, you said that I tap your phones -- I think that's what you said. You tapped your phone -- I tapped your phones. Yes. No, that's right. Yes, no, let me finish.

Oh, Mr. President, how eloquent you are.
posted by patr1ck at 5:43 PM on April 6, 2006


I don't think that Bush's response showed any level of brilliance. Taylor made the classic mistake of trying to make too many points in his question. That allows the person responding to pick the easiest point to refute. He should have picked one point and asked it as specifically and strongly as he could have.
posted by flarbuse at 5:46 PM on April 6, 2006


Well it's certainly more civil a response than Tom DeLay sending his supporters to beat people up.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:47 PM on April 6, 2006


In so doing, he was able to make a long-winded statement about how he would not appologize for it, and how he thought it was constitutional, etc. In the listener's mind, this explanation dangerously overshadowed and began to address all of Taylor's objections.

Interesting. Sounds like he took a page out of Bill Clinton's playbook. Clinton, when pressed by a potentially damaging question, would latch on to one part of it, and drill into it in excruciating detail. Usually, by the time he got to the end of his response, the questioner would be so bored and frustrated, he wouldn't pursue any follow ups.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 5:48 PM on April 6, 2006


Harry Taylor makes the common stupid mistake of saying "tap my phone" when he means "unconstitutionally and illegally tap my phone," which allows the president to easily say "wiretaps are a critical part of protecting us from terra," end of story. People need to be more careful about this.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:50 PM on April 6, 2006


Interesting. Sounds like he took a page out of Bill Clinton's playbook.

i think that's in *every* politician's playbook. probably even, *gasp* Reagan!
posted by raygun21 at 5:51 PM on April 6, 2006


Also, with the recent revelation that people within the FBI knew explicitly that Moussaui was part of an ongoing, specific plot to hijack US planes and fly them into the WTC, but that FBI brass prevented this from getting dealt with... it really burns me up to see people talking about how illegal wiretaps/PATRIOT/etc are a logical response to mistakes that were made in not stopping 9/11.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:52 PM on April 6, 2006


And no one ever heard from Harry Taylor again.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:53 PM on April 6, 2006


Meta flashback to the delphi technique.
posted by raygun21 at 5:55 PM on April 6, 2006


I must say, I think it's kind of pathetic that, at this point, it takes a private citizen to say these things. The Democrats should be saying them every day.
posted by digaman at 5:56 PM on April 6, 2006


it really burns me up to see people talking about how illegal wiretaps/PATRIOT/etc are a logical response to mistakes that were made in not stopping 9/11.

Amen to that. They had all the legal tools they needed on 9/11 to stop it from happening, but they failed to put the dots together. So, now we are meant to believe that surrendering to the will of the police state will make us safer? Safer from whom?
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 5:58 PM on April 6, 2006


pretty shocking the audience laughs at Bush's quip....
posted by RufusW at 5:58 PM on April 6, 2006


I thought the president's facial reactions and interruptions ("Yeah," and "I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead.") were rude and disrespectful of the serious tone of Mr. Taylor's comments. He also finished his reply by saying that Mr. Taylor had asked him to apologize when he hadn't.

I respect his hearing Mr. Taylor out and admonishing the crowd to let him speak, and his deflection of Mr. Taylor's comments was quite skillful.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:08 PM on April 6, 2006


pretty shocking the audience laughs at Bush's quip....

Aren't the audiences for these things hand-picked to avoid any taint of democratic diversity of opinion? There was talk a long time back of some insane 'oath of fealty' or something that people had to sign to attend these rallies, wasn't there?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:10 PM on April 6, 2006


I hope Taylor thought up that question on the spot, because only if he faced the pressure of delivering a question extemporaneously can he be forgiven such fatal strategic flaws. That town-hall format is not conducive to any sort of statement that needs to be supported with sound logic and evidence. I doubt the format even allows for follow-up questions, which makes it even worse than the mostly useless White House press conferences. The only way for the questioner to make a mark is to come up with a zinger.
posted by mullacc at 6:24 PM on April 6, 2006


Libby is now saying Bush himself ordered the leak of the Iraq Uranium story
posted by edgeways at 6:24 PM on April 6, 2006


We're posting to Metafilter what a guy said to the President in a open forum? Really?
posted by xmutex at 6:28 PM on April 6, 2006


Everytime someone takes a public stab at Bush american liberals go bonkers. No matter how often you scold him it simply doesn't matter. America should work on it's political system and at least introduce parlimentary discussions like in the UK or Canada to kick the presidents butt in a proper context. But american politicans and the media are way to scared to raise their voices. While people all over the world protested against Bush's war in Iraq - most americans were afraid to rais their voices against this stupid act of power.
posted by homodigitalis at 6:29 PM on April 6, 2006


I hope Taylor thought up that question on the spot, because only if he faced the pressure of delivering a question extemporaneously can he be forgiven such fatal strategic flaws.

Oh, please. The only reason this is being discussed here at all is that Taylor asked the question. Perhaps history will forgive him for being just an ordinary guy and not sufficiently prepped by a team of handlers.
posted by 327.ca at 6:29 PM on April 6, 2006


I am surprised by the praise of Bush for deflecting the question and focusing on one point. That is not a technique of politicians. It is a technique of people.

W -- You never do the dishes, you spend no time with the kids, you never take out the garbage, and you're rude to my mother!

M -- What are you talking about? I just took Jimmy to the park yesterday and I made lunch for Debbie today! (more detail about the point he can latch onto while ignoring the other issues)
posted by flarbuse at 6:36 PM on April 6, 2006


I like how every time he's called out on one of his illegal acts he uses the 'We're at war" excuse. I don't think that really fies when YOU started the war in the first place, for no good reason.
Thats like burning down your own house and crashing at your friends place, where you eat all the food and spend all his money and when he brings it up you say " But my house got burned down!"
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:39 PM on April 6, 2006


MetaFilter: not sufficiently prepped by a team of handlers.
posted by loquacious at 6:40 PM on April 6, 2006


The only reason this is being discussed here at all is that Taylor asked the question.

He didn't even actually ask a question. He just strung together a few platitudes that were completely vulnerable to Republican talking points and then finished it off by saying the president should be ashamed of himself.

I appreciate the pressure of the position he put himself in, but if he went to the trouble of getting that position, you'd think he'd be better prepared.
posted by mullacc at 6:41 PM on April 6, 2006


Harry Taylor should have thrown an egg.
posted by fire&wings at 6:42 PM on April 6, 2006


Good for him.

I guess it's a real coo to have someone like this leak through and be able to give an honest opinion of the President?
I'm Canadian and I know I've haven't seen anything like this so far, where someone is allowed to challenge Bush in an open way. And I can't believe I haven't seen it before...like digaman said, this should be happening constantly.
Frankly, I'm amazed sometimes that there's not a revolution brewing down there with all the shit that's gone down in the last six years.
It would be hilarious if it wasn't so scary.
posted by chococat at 6:45 PM on April 6, 2006


Looks like homodigitalis said it much better than me.
posted by chococat at 6:48 PM on April 6, 2006


Eggcorn!
posted by matthewr at 6:49 PM on April 6, 2006


While people all over the world protested against Bush's war in Iraq - most americans were afraid to rais their voices against this stupid act of power.

Actually, there were lots of people marching in protests inside the US as well. What's different from this situation, is that the President is usually kept far, far away from people who have these sorts of opinions. Especially when the press is around.
posted by Staggering Jack at 6:50 PM on April 6, 2006


Honestly I'd say Bush handled it really well. Before he was elected he was often portrayed as having this classic Texan gentleman charm, which I rarely saw in him. But this wasn't a bad performance at all.

To respond with a bit of levity after the guy went on and on about how awful he (Bush) is, to go out of his way to let him finish his non-question - if nothing else that would go against the image of him living in an ivory tower never hearing any criticism. Yeah, Bush dodged the overwhelming majority of the guy's speech, but few politicians would derail an event like that to address such a broad and unfocused series of criticisms.

It's so rare to read something that makes Bush seem at all likeable, frankly, so I'm actually impressed. Perhaps the video doesn't come off as favorably.
posted by mragreeable at 6:50 PM on April 6, 2006


Libby is now saying Bush himself ordered the leak of the Iraq Uranium story

Not quite. He's saying that Cheney said Bush ordered it. Cheney could have lied to him (and I'm sure that will be the story if push comes to shove, no matter what the truth is).
posted by kirkaracha at 6:51 PM on April 6, 2006


The Branch Davidians, yeah, I was pondering that just the other night. Instead of the ATF heat doing the Doom Patrol thing on their asses, one Wilford Brimley-type good-ole-boy Fed could've showed up with a briefcase full of paperwork and said, "Don't worry, fellers, I've got all the forms and my Parker pen, and after I get done he'pin' y'all render unto Caesar, we'll have all those guns of your legal 'n' all and you can get back to renderin' unto God."
posted by pax digita at 6:51 PM on April 6, 2006



Man tells President Bush that he should be ashamed of himself.

And Bush does not understand at all what that means, and relies on his pre-scripted talking points, as usual. That whole thing this morning was the most disjointed and rambling and insane thing i've ever heard from anyone in power---even Ford was more on point, and Saddam and Osama and Baghdad Bob and Ari Fleischer and all the children in PS 8, and all the kids who rode the special bus to PS 8, etc. I imagine Baby Doc and Ferdinand Marcos and Idi Amin sounded like Bush did today--maybe Adolf at the end was as insane and disjointed but i doubt it--even Nixon kept some shred of sanity.
posted by amberglow at 6:56 PM on April 6, 2006


If you read the transcript, the first thing out of Harry Taylor's mouth after Bush asks if he has a question are the words "I don't have a question." The CNN video is slightly cut up. The transcript makes Harry sound like much more of a rambler. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. He has the right to say his piece. I just wish he had a direct question that Bush would have had to give a hard answer to. He should not have allowed the President to pick from a litany of gripes this guy has and come back with his strongest argument, forgetting about the rest of Harry's concerns. I'll give him an A for effort though, but he could have used a little more focus. Believe it or not, Bush is not against safe food and clean water.
posted by Roger Dodger at 6:57 PM on April 6, 2006


What he should've said (I know, shoulda coulda woulda) is "You're making jokes? People are dying and suffering because of what you've done. And you think it's all a big joke!" I'm sure you would've heard some uncomfortable silence then.

If you're wondering why liberals get all excited over something like this, it's only because it's so rare, not because we think anything will happen because of it. (Except perhaps, tighter security at the next appearance.)
posted by fungible at 7:09 PM on April 6, 2006


I'm reminded of the amusing story on This American Life about the young guy who utterly failed to effectively deliver his message of protest during a press conference held by Bush Sr many years ago. I can't for the life of me find it at the moment, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:20 PM on April 6, 2006


Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales suggested on Thursday for the first time that the president might have the legal authority to order wiretapping without a warrant on communications between Americans that occur exclusively within the United States.
"I'm not going to rule it out," Mr. Gonzales said when asked about that possibility at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The attorney general made his comments, which critics said reflected a broadened view of the president's authority, as President Bush offered another strong defense of his decision to authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without warrants on international calls and e-mail messages to or from the United States.
Mr. Bush, in an appearance in North Carolina, told a questioner who attacked the program that he would "absolutely not" apologize for authorizing it. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:28 PM on April 6, 2006


There is really only one question to ask of people in a position to direct coercive force against ordinary people:

"If someone is minding his own business, is it better for him to be 'good' because he chooses to, or because he is forced to?"

So much of the trouble the world has with political leadership on the right and left, and with religious leaders, would cease if this meme would spread.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:30 PM on April 6, 2006


Bush is no more capable of feeling shame than he is of doubt.
posted by homunculus at 7:33 PM on April 6, 2006


Stavros is thinking of the This American Life episode called "What I Should've Said". I can't figure out how to link to it, though.
posted by interrobang at 7:35 PM on April 6, 2006


he diffused the situation.

like light defused through a prism?
posted by quonsar at 7:36 PM on April 6, 2006


like light defused through a prism?

Except without creating a pretty rainbow as the result.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 7:39 PM on April 6, 2006


What I Should've Said.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:44 PM on April 6, 2006


What I Should've Said
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:47 PM on April 6, 2006


Bush did good in his response. I don't think that's a bad thing. Like it or not, this idiot is running the place for at least the near future, if not the next two and a half years. Any time he has to confront the facts he created that's a good thing. And if on some level, he can start to really see where he made the mistakes he did, and start to stop making more, it is better for the country.

I still hope they impeach his ass.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:49 PM on April 6, 2006


Too much editorializing in the question. Flag it and move on.
posted by Joeforking at 7:53 PM on April 6, 2006


Too much editorializing in the question. Flag it and move on.
posted by Joeforking at 7:53 PM PST on April 6 [


VS?

What were you expecting? And if this isn't what you expect, why not contribute.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:04 PM on April 6, 2006


What were you expecting? And if this isn't what you expect, why not contribute.

He's commenting on Harry Taylor's question, not the post.
posted by IronLizard at 8:08 PM on April 6, 2006


What he should've said (I know, shoulda coulda woulda) is "You're making jokes? People are dying and suffering because of what you've done. And you think it's all a big joke!"

But I fear Mr. Taylor would've sounded like a bit of a douchebag then. Bush didn't really crack a joke or anything - I saw it more as a lighthearted way to get the guy to stop pontificating and move on to his question. Like the press conference way of telling the guy "GYOBFW." (Or what Joeforking said, really.)

Bush said he'd be glad to answer questions, not let any random person editorialize indefinitely. I read it as a polite, self-deprecating and actually somewhat charming way to get to the (presumed) point of the question.
posted by mragreeable at 8:19 PM on April 6, 2006


The guy didn't want to ask a question so much as he wanted to go off on the president. And while there are a lot of people who can sympathize with that sentiment, there aren't many adults who seriously think that's how the president's time should be spent. If he's going to answer questions, cool. If he's just going to listen to people bitch, I'd rather he go back to the White House and study a map.

I agree, the president handled it well. He should be so tactful with reporters...
posted by cribcage at 8:35 PM on April 6, 2006


^^i find myself agreeing with what he said.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:35 PM on April 6, 2006


damn you, cribcage!

i meant i agree with mragreeable, of course. har har.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:36 PM on April 6, 2006


Good for Harry indeed. I sure as hell won't criticize the only average American ever-- that I'm aware of----- inna room full of Wcocksuckers----- that actually QUESTIONED Caesar.
posted by wrapper at 8:41 PM on April 6, 2006


Knowing how controlled these audiences are, could Harry Taylor have been planted?
posted by lemur at 8:55 PM on April 6, 2006


Hooray for Harry!
posted by muckster at 9:16 PM on April 6, 2006


so much for the free speech pen!
posted by pwedza at 9:34 PM on April 6, 2006


"Libby is now saying Bush himself ordered the leak of the Iraq Uranium story"

Not quite. He's saying that Cheney said Bush ordered it.


No, it's cleverer yet by half. He's saying that he thought Cheney had told him that, and he checked with the Vice President's attorney David Addington, who advised him that it would be legal. Addington is being set up as the scapegoat who will deflect blame from Cheney.

We're posting to Metafilter what a guy said to the President in a open forum? Really?

They so rarely allow stuff like this, it's news. Even when it isn't very good.

Knowing how controlled these audiences are, could Harry Taylor have been planted?

Are we sure we know where Allan Colmes was at the time?

I don't think Taylor ever had a chance.

Probably not, this was his one shot on national TV and Bush is an Ivy League graduate and a skilled campaigner. Where's that video of his first gubernatorial campaign, where he took a complex issue (school funding?) and just killed? Oh, here.

Yeah, I'm wondering whether this guy was a ringer they deliberately let in, perhaps even with full knowledge of his public-speaking skills (local Republicans may know him well as a gadfly and judge him harmless). And Bush takes the opportunity to be magnanimous, "Let him speak", showing that he isn't afraid of the opposition or dictatorial, but responds in the most marginalizing way -- "You don't like me much", making it about emotion rather than issues.

And yes, he diced the question skilfully, with debating basics and some gentle-art-of-verbal-self-defense pirouettes. And the question was too broad, too inchoate, too emotionally drawn. "Mr. President, if we have a law on foreign surveillance which your attorneys told Congress did not need to be changed, why did you bypass that law?" is a better start, but it still allows him to come back with his inherent authority argument. So the argument should be directly addressed: "Mr. President, if the executive has the inherent authority that you claim to bypass the laws the Congress passes when you deem it necessary, how is the rule of law maintained, and what guarantee do we have that you or a future President will not abuse that authority?" Then we're getting somewhere.
posted by dhartung at 9:35 PM on April 6, 2006


Speaking truth to power, no matter how messy it may be, is always something to be applauded. And those who found Bush charming are seriously in need of charm school.
posted by filchyboy at 9:44 PM on April 6, 2006


According to a poster at kos Taylor is the real deal.
posted by filchyboy at 9:47 PM on April 6, 2006


wire taps are bad. if someone is suspected of having terrorist ties and his phone number ends up on an al qaeda cell phone or computer somwhere in afghanistan or iraq, we should let those conversations continue without surveillance.

btw, why is karl rove listening to calls between me and grandma?

posted by b_thinky at 10:25 PM on April 6, 2006


Because he thinks you're a vegan and she's a Quaker. Traitors!
posted by homunculus at 10:50 PM on April 6, 2006


And those who found Bush charming are seriously in need of charm school.

And you're in need of an intro debate class (or take off the blinders).

No, it won't play well over here. No, he didn't answer the question. But he'll come off well to the majority.

Dhartung has a great link. It is strange that someone once considered skilled now comes off so badly. Today he actually sounded like an experienced politician. Haven't heard a president avoid the question that well since, well, clinton.
posted by justgary at 11:03 PM on April 6, 2006


We have a simpleton for a president. Bless his heart. Nothing but a mortal fool. Please re-read ~The Emperor Who Wore No Clothes~. God or a fair approximation, please help us. To defend him is to join ranks with the blind legions that followed the infamous German leader to their deaths while zealously trumpeting his tragically flawed vision or worse sat silently in apathy. (I won't use his name because knee-jerk reactions will be painful enough to watch without torching the endeavor with known incendiaries.) The German had an aggression eerily similar to Bush's. Thank God Bush BELIEVES he works for all that is good in the world. That is the difference between the German and Bush. The German antagonist was, first and foremost, a race supremacist. Bush is first and foremost a businessman working for his father and secondarily, a religious and political supremacist. He does great harm with his imperialistic thrusts in Islam (whom Bush views as inferior or 'wrong-minded' due to their religious beliefs, just as A.H. did with those he attacked and attempted to dominate.) Both men went to war for a flawed vision and hundreds of thousands died. The difference is that all of the chapters in The German's book have probably been written. Bush's and his hillbilly minions final chapters remain. (Iran et al.) Islam is watching. Bush will not attack Iraq. He wouldn't dare. If you think a Danish cartoon agitated Islam, just try and aggrieve another Islamic country. He is a fool but I dare say even he is not that stupid. We will be brought to the brink of another holocaust if he sensed he could do so and get away with it. Islam has been galvanized by US actions in Iraq . A groundswell of hatred for America that will conflagrate the Middle East and Europe, lies in wait; a not-so- quiet menace. More brilliantly dark plots will be perpetuated on the Island of America, given time, if we choose to pursue further idiocy in the heart of Islam. It becomes a self perpetuating legacy will be self sufficient in Ethanol in a few years by growing and processing sugarcane into fuel. What was so hard about that? Some do not seem to get an inkling that the Bush oil dynasty megalomania, borders on the brink of mental illness. Perpetuation of that dynasty is inextricably linked to the juggernaut of current US imperialism. How could it not be? Anyone with a business mindset intuitively gets this. Power and mental illness are unpredictable bedfellows. Our President tries to force democracy down the throats of those with other views, by killing directly and 'collaterally' rather than living by example. At best we are a modern day Janus. 9.11 was a symptom of our failed policy. We are the antagonists not the protagonists. Our past imperialistic actions (and they still view us as the newly-minted devil spawn of the British Empire, don't kid yourself) are the reason representatives of Islam attacked us. If it were not for the luck of fools, he might have led us into an even greater conflagration than he has already bumbled into. He has set the pot to simmering. He will bumble his way through the remainder of his term and with a little luck will avoid greater catastrophe and damage to our nations paper thin heritage. We are the newbies on the world stage. What buffoons we must appear to cultures many millennia older than ours with our elitist posturing and strutting around like we are Gods' chosen people. How many servings of humble pie will it take for us to withdraw our talons and sit quietly on the branch in peace? We are one of the newest Republics on the planet; a mere 230 years old. We have no idea how quickly our economic engine could be crippled. Plant a vegetable garden. Get back in touch with what really sustains you. Walmart wont feed you when the sum result of imperialism comes arcing home likes some improbable and fiery Phoenix. We have a hillbilly for a president. A hillbilly with power, pistols, bunkers full of Spam and beans, shiny planes and legions of simple good folk who believe marching into a sovereign country half way around the world is our god and countries calling. Such a young country. Such mortal fools. What a pathetic fiasco. Next.
posted by Muirwylde at 11:32 PM on April 6, 2006


^^^^geez, ever hear of a paragraph?^^^^
posted by b_thinky at 11:46 PM on April 6, 2006


Touche, justgary, touche.

For my part, it was an pebble launched at a dreadnaught. It went "ting", fell to the ground and the war machine chugged on.

We need alot more pebbles. And maybe some big, big rocks.
posted by fenriq at 11:55 PM on April 6, 2006


i don't think that those of us who thought Bush handled Mr. Taylor's statement(s), Muirwylde, are defending him.

I think most of us had very low expectations for his retort and he not only met those, but he did a heckuva job in stating his point of view.

One reason I posted this FPP was I felt it was a very good (though not perfect) showing by Mr. Taylor, and a very good (though quite Bushie) rebutal by the President.

In no way am I a supporter or a defender of this miserable administration but I do admire the way W has stepped up as his kingdom continues to fall around him.

It reminds me of the way certain flowers bloom brightest right before they die.
posted by tsarfan at 11:57 PM on April 6, 2006


Should read...Brazil will be...
posted by Muirwylde at 12:00 AM on April 7, 2006


Wow. Muirwylde=Harry Taylor?
posted by jaysus chris at 12:04 AM on April 7, 2006


Despite being by all common appearances a blithering idiot, Bush is occasionally very dangerous, and he showed that side today.
--nlindstrom
I had a subconscious tinge of sympathy for Bush while reading that transcript and I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE what he's done to the land of the free and how his anti-liberty, anti-human rights attitude trickles down the layers of government and seeps into the hearts and minds of citizens.

Sometimes I worry that my rambling anger on Metafilter and similar sites is a little much. But I really hate what's happening and it's hard to control. And yet, I felt comforted for a second after reading that hollow retort. That scares me.

raygun21's suggestion to revisit The Delphi Technique thread is definately a good idea. When I first read that article, I came away thinking that we were definately seeing it being done on a national level. I'm disheartened because I'm not sure that the strategies for fighting the Delphi Technique scale to the national level as well as the Delphi Technique itself. (The Delphi Disruption fails when the disruptor loses composure or focus. How do you focus, compose a grassroots movement of individuals? And then, what about agent provacatuers?) We may be able to scale it up if we create strong, wise counter leadership, but no one has yet risen to the occassion. We are a generation without great leadership. No Martin Luther King Jr. No Gandhi. I wonder if we are just unlucky or if the structure to create such a great does not presently exist.
posted by Skwirl at 1:00 AM on April 7, 2006


Bush should still allow himself to be interviewed by Jon Stewart. The McCain piece was priceless... Jon may be a prick, but he's intelligent, witty, and pulls no punches.... If Bush did that, I might, just might respect him as a person, although no matter what, he's a terrible president...
posted by Debaser626 at 1:09 AM on April 7, 2006


George Bush interrupted him before Mr. Taylor could ask his question, and immediately launched into a rambling dialogue that used all the right buzzwords without really saying anything substantive. The question might have been difficult to answer, so he cut him off, asked his own question, and answered that one instead.

It's useless to try and debate him. George Bush doesn't care what anyone else thinks. Like Jake and Elwood before him, he's on a mission from God.
posted by Jatayu das at 3:45 AM on April 7, 2006


a rambling dialogue that used all the right buzzwords without really saying anything substantive

That pretty much sums-up all of politics, dunnit?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:28 AM on April 7, 2006


I don't think the W handled Harry's assertions skillfully. He responded to one point with the same chant he's been making several times a week for several months. He has apparently gotten that speech down pat and is one of his few accomplishments.
posted by wrapper at 4:56 AM on April 7, 2006


re those asking about the hand-picked nature of the crowds, The New York Times claims that the White House now has a " strategy to put Mr. Bush in front of crowds, including those hostile to him."
posted by mosessis at 5:47 AM on April 7, 2006


Hi, I'm here for the self-flagellation for double posting...

PS. Does anyone see a striking resemblance to this Norman Rockwell painting?

I hope this was legitimate and not more GOP/Rove theater....
posted by rzklkng at 5:48 AM on April 7, 2006


Cribcage: The guy didn't want to ask a question so much as he wanted to go off on the president. And while there are a lot of people who can sympathize with that sentiment, there aren't many adults who seriously think that's how the president's time should be spent.

Normally I would agree with you except that with Bush's "Town Hall Meetings" most of what we get are: "President Bush, I love you so much. You are a great leader. I want you to know I am praying for you. My question is, how can I help you?"

So this was a nice antidote that steady drip of poisonous mush.

I found Bush's answer to the first question ("I totally agree with you about Iraq, but what about the deficit?") to be an infuriating tissue of lies, half-truths and spin.

1. We are going to half the deficit by 2009 (by some magical plan that I have yet to reveal or even figure out.)

2. The tax cuts for the uber-wealthy was a good thing because of trickle-down (voodoo) economics (which we continue to harp on even though it is completely wishful thinking.)

3. We have to spend all that money to make sure our troops are safe (even though the vast majority of defense spending doesn't actually get spent on "luxuries" like body armor.)

4. New Orleans. $100 Billion. (Nuff said. Don't need to mention that the rebuilding of New Orleans is going very slowly or that most of the city is still dispersed because of a lack of housing.)

5. And since we are talking about deficits this is a good chance to harp on and on about my completely useless ideas for changing Social Security.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:55 AM on April 7, 2006


Mr. President, if it is found in a United States court that the wiretapping you engaged in was in fact illegal will you willingly resign and go to prison in order to preserve the integrity of the Constitution?

That's all that needed to be asked.
posted by any major dude at 6:09 AM on April 7, 2006


Another question:

Why should we believe a word you say when so many predictions you have made about this war have been wrong?
posted by any major dude at 6:18 AM on April 7, 2006


I liked your first question better.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:14 AM on April 7, 2006


It was a classic, First Amendment, Norman Rockwell moment, an extraordinary example of courageously and courteously speaking truth to power:

Thank you, Harry Taylor, for reminding us we still live in a free country.
posted by darkstar at 7:48 AM on April 7, 2006


I don't see why anyone thinks Bush handled it well, he just smirked as always , then made a nervous and lame joke. Then distorted the topic. I guess the bar is set so low for him that this passes for skill.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:05 AM on April 7, 2006


BUSH "...it would make sense for us to listen to a call outside the country, inside the country from al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda"

Jeesh ...

I think he's a mushmouth on purpose.
posted by punkbitch at 8:08 AM on April 7, 2006


darkstar - what's the other image of?
posted by raedyn at 8:16 AM on April 7, 2006


Norman Rockwell's Freedom of Speech, I believe.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 8:17 AM on April 7, 2006


That's right, Cyclo.

See more about that painting and the other three of Rockwell's important Four Freedoms works here.
posted by darkstar at 8:32 AM on April 7, 2006


Also note that the exhortation to buy war bonds was not part of the original painting. It was added to the poster depicting the painting as part of a war bond tour after the paintings were published.

More on these paintings here.
posted by darkstar at 8:38 AM on April 7, 2006



“...They made this assessment that it was constitutional for me to make that decision.
And so members of both parties, both chambers, were fully aware of a program intended to know whether or not al Qaeda was calling in or calling out of the country. It seems like -- to make sense, if we're at war, we ought to be using tools necessary within the Constitution, on a very limited basis, a program that's reviewed constantly to protect us. ”


“I was told that I could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven, I told bill that if Sandra is going to listen to her headphones while she's filing then I should be able to listen to the radio while I'm collating so I don't see why I should have to turn down the radio because I enjoy listening at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven.”
posted by Smedleyman at 8:59 AM on April 7, 2006


Harry Taylor: Modern Day Hero
posted by rougy at 9:36 AM on April 7, 2006


Bush will not attack Iraq. He wouldn't dare. If you think a Danish cartoon agitated Islam, just try and aggrieve another Islamic country. He is a fool but I dare say even he is not that stupid

I assume you meant "Iran," though Bush himself probably has a little trouble keeping those two words separate in his mind.

But au contraire, muirwylde: Is the US about to attack Iran?
posted by digaman at 9:58 AM on April 7, 2006


Ah Smedleyman, but have you seen W's stapler? He can't ensure that all those classified documents stay together without it. Who knows what could happen? So if you could just make sure that you staple together the NIE and the "Get Wilson by any means! by order of me, George W Bush" post-it-note written in crayon, that'd be great. Great.
posted by longbaugh at 10:18 AM on April 7, 2006


So instead of marching on Washington daily, you wait for some guy to stand up at a town hall meeting and then criticize his style?
posted by jon_kill at 10:32 AM on April 7, 2006


Seriously justgary you need to have your snark meter overhauled. I don't think I wrote anything about answering the question. You do realize I hope there is a difference between charm and answering questions, right?
posted by filchyboy at 10:57 AM on April 7, 2006


i love that lady sitting next to harry taylor in the photo:

"ooooo, mo-ded!"
posted by Miles Long at 11:03 AM on April 7, 2006


Normally I would agree with you except that with Bush's "Town Hall Meetings" most of what we get are: "President Bush, I love you so much. You are a great leader. I want you to know I am praying for you. My question is, how can I help you?"

Yeah, well, those are even more embarrassing and an even greater waste of time. They're also insulting, since (often) they're clearly staged, which means that some flunkie honestly thought to himself, "I know lots of lib'rals hate GW...but I bet if we put the camera on Aunt May while she thanks him for serving our country, that'll change some minds!!"

Almost any public performance by a politician is utterly worthless and hollow. That's why I love guys like Al Sharpton or Alan Keyes — because there's no chance they'll win, but for a few moments during the early debates they'll make sure someone actually talks about an issue.
posted by cribcage at 11:26 AM on April 7, 2006


So instead of marching on Washington daily, you wait for some guy to stand up at a town hall meeting and then criticize his style?

Yes! Democracy, isn't it beautiful?
posted by funambulist at 11:51 AM on April 7, 2006


Well-spoken tho. Could have told him to GFYS like that dude with Cheney.

...actually I’m a bit ashamed of the folks that booed the guy.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:53 AM on April 7, 2006


""Mr. President, if the executive has the inherent authority that you claim to bypass the laws the Congress passes when you deem it necessary, how is the rule of law maintained, and what guarantee do we have that you or a future President will not abuse that authority?""

Nope, still too long.

This is one of those handy things from journalism school-- how to ask a blunt interrogative. You don't do ornate multiclause questions, you never ask for a yes/no and you do your framing in your question.

"Mr. President, what protections are there against the inevitable abuse of the power that stems from having a president who believes he can surveille without authorisation from congress or the judicial branch?"

While the wordlenghth is similar, and while I could probably work on trimming it back again, it forces him to either accept the premise that there are inevitable abuses (and thus defend them) or argue that there won't be any abuses, which isn't as strong when faced with a question that sets the frame as stating that there are inevitable abuses. To really connect, a follow-up is necessary to catch any dodging.
posted by klangklangston at 1:09 PM on April 7, 2006


(Laughter and applause.)
posted by rxreed at 3:40 PM on April 7, 2006


"Mr. President, What provisions have you put in place to assure that lefty lib'ruls can't abuse power like you can?"
posted by Balisong at 4:06 PM on April 7, 2006


Your President Speaks! (selected Bush quotes from that day)
...I strongly believe what we're doing is the right thing. If I didn't believe it -- I'm going to repeat what I said before -- I'd pull the troops out, nor if I believed we could win, I would pull the troops out. ...
posted by amberglow at 6:39 PM on April 7, 2006


Mr President, I'm concerned that you are not eating enough pretzels. Can you assure the American public that that you are indeed munching by the bag full in an attempt to restore Karma?
posted by wrapper at 8:01 PM on April 7, 2006


Mr. President, i think you're subconsciously trying to get impeached because you don't want to do the "hard work" of "presidentin'" --how can we help you achieve that goal?
posted by amberglow at 8:56 PM on April 7, 2006


Stavros: ... "provenance unknown" ... "If you could be any kind of animal...."

Guido Sarducci.
posted by RavinDave at 10:25 PM on April 7, 2006


That smirk on his face! How can anyone not want to smack that right off of him?!

I am not surprised that people booed him. Not being a fan of Bush, I wouldn't really want to go see him blab, so the people who are in the audience are more likely to be "fans". Or at least that's what I tell myself to keep from being totally ashamed of not only my president, but most of my fellow Americans.
posted by thekilgore at 1:27 PM on April 8, 2006


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