Monday, July 17, 2006
Open MikeAt a luncheon in Russia, the microphone in front of the President and Tony Blair was left on. The conversation is rather revealing. Some of the things made me chuckle, and indicate why some people really like Bush's friendly manner. Like this: "Thanks for the sweater. It was awfully thoughtful of you," Bush, who just celebrated his 60th birthday, tells Blair. "I know you picked it out yourself." The prime minister chimes in, "Oh, absolutely." Funny stuff! Then there's a comment that shows what a dork he can be: Then, to Chinese President Hu Jintao, on Bush's right, he said: "Where you going? Home? This is your neighborhood. Doesn't take too long to get home?" When he hears that Hu's flight to Beijing is eight hours, Bush says, "Me too." "Russia's a big country and you're a big country. ... Takes him eight hours to fly home. Takes him eight hours to fly home. Eight hours. Russia's big and so's China." Our President is an expert in geography. Funny stuff! The meaty comment was this one on Hezbollah: "See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over." Then later, Bush responded that he feels like "telling Kofi to get on the phone with [Syrian President Bashir] Assad, make something happen. We're not blaming Israel and we're not blaming the Lebanese government." If the two captured Israeli soldiers are really the catalyst for this event (which is under debate) then this isn't entirely incorrect. However, the statement reveals (to me, at least) that the President's horizon of concern ends merely at the violence. It seems okay to him that two countries live side by side who want to kill each other--so long as they don't actually do it. This is too short-sighted, and indicates why Koffi Annan's approach (which Bush criticized) is probably more intelligent. I bet Annan knows how far it is from Moscow to Beijing, too.