Monday, January 12, 2009

WHERE Were the tough questions?

Photo Credit: Chip Smodevilla/Getty

By l.t. Dravis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Monday, January 12, 2009 – George W. Bush held his final news conference today, played fast and loose with the truth as he defended his eight year record, and no one in the room had guts enough to challenge him.

George W. Bush opened the door wide several times for tough questions, but reporters didn’t dare rush in.

Why, I’ll never know . . . it’s not like any of these reporters had to worry about being barred from the next Bush Press Conference for having committed the mortal sin of asking a tough question.

Bush was aggressive, arrogant, and even joked about the incredible mess he’s left this country in.

And the White House Press Corps laughed with him.

Not one professional journalist had the courage to challenge Bush when he commented on his presidency’s record by saying, “I think it’s a good, strong record. You know, presidents can try to avoid hard decisions and therefore controversy. That’s just not my nature.”

With America mired in two wars, with our military nearing the breaking point, with our infrastructure falling down, with unprecedented deficit spending adding up to a $10+ trillion national debt, with unprecedented mismanagement of American resources in Iraq, with our economy in shambles, with millions of Americans facing foreclosure, with millions more out of work, with our banking system on the edge of failure, and with our manufacturing base nearly destroyed, why wouldn’t at least one journalist challenge that statement?

Who in the room, who in the nation, who in the world sincerely believes George W. Bush’s record, is ‘good and strong’?

When asked about America’s image around the world, Bush said, “I disagree with this assessment that, you know, that people view America in a dim light. It may be damaged amongst some of the elite. But people still understand America stands for freedom.”

Of course, eight years of George W. Bush’s arrogant, detached, incompetence has damaged America’s image around the world.

Did the reporters at Bush’s final press conference truly believe that our image around the world has been strengthened by his mismanagement of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Did those reporters believe our image has been helped by Bush’s lack of leadership in coping with the ongoing nuclear threat in Iran? Did any of those reporters seriously believe that the Bush administration strengthened America’s image by ‘rendering’ and ‘torturing’ suspected terrorists in secret prisons in foreign countries and at ‘Gitmo’?

Yet not one reporter challenged him.

George W. Bush then defended his record in the Middle East by justifying his failure. “It’s been a long time since they’ve had peace in the Middle East,” Bush said. “The challenge, of course, has been to lay out the conditions so that a peaceful state can emerge. Will this ever happen? I think it will. And I know we’ve advanced the process.”

No reporter pointed out the fallacy of his argument or asked Bush to explain how his administration had ‘advanced the process’.

Bush then said he’d “thought long and hard about Katrina. You know could I have done something differently, like land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge.”

Bush was revealing that the most important thing on his mind when Katrina hit was where to have a photo op . . . in New Orleans or Baton Rouge . . . yet no one in the room pointed out that he was talking about something completely unrelated to the question of his administration’s abysmal response to a national tragedy.

Bush then said something absurd . . . even for him. He said, “Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there were 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed. Could things have been done better? Absolutely. But when I hear people say the federal response was slow, what are they going to say to those chopper drivers or the 30,000 who got pulled off the roof?”

That Bush could get away with making a statement like that . . . in front of experienced journalists was unbelievable.

It is well documented that George W. Bush failed to take charge; that he failed to make certain that every federal resource was utilized to quickly and effectively save lives and property throughout the Gulf Coast after Katrina. His failure cost lives and seriously delayed the rebuilding effort. George W. Bush and his minions failed to anticipate the scope of the disaster (despite very clear warnings from the national weather service) and they failed to react and they failed to follow-through.

Three and a half years after the fact, damage done by Katrina is still impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans on the Gulf Coast.

Yet not one reporter pointed out that the Coast Guard’s valiant efforts to save 30,000 Katrina victims had absolutely nothing to do with Bush’s leadership or with his administration’s response to the tragedy.

Not one reporter asked George W. Bush to explain or justify why his Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, threw the first $350 billion of the financial bailout at banks with no accountability.

The outgoing president stood at that podium in front of the White House Press Corps for three-quarters of an hour so it wasn’t like reporters didn’t have time enough to ask the tough questions.

If the media exists only to serve as a conduit for truth between us and them, why didn’t reporters hold George W. Bush accountable for his failures today?

Were those reporters more concerned about playing by the unspoken rules of presidential press conferences, which are designed, first and foremost, to protect the president’s image or were they more concerned about honoring their obligation to report the truth?

After today, we know the answer to that question.

Don’t we?

Copyright © 2008 by LTD Associates West, Ltd. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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