January 24, 2006

Bush takes questions from students.

I'm reading the transcript of the President's talk at Kansas State University. I was amused by this interchange:
QUESTION: Hello, Mr. President. I'm an American-Iraqi Kurd. I would like to salute you and salute all the troops of freeing 27 million people that are free.

BUSH: Thank you.


QUESTION: Mr. President, I would like to share this thought with all our nation and everybody who is questioning what happened to the chemical weapons. Saddam burned 4,500 villages. I lost more than 10 members of my family underground. We found their bones when we freed Iraq. Saddam himself and his people, his followers, they have chemical weapons.

QUESTION: Please stop questioning the administration and their decision. It was the best decision anybody could take: freeing 27 million people.


BUSH: OK. This is a question-and-answer period.

QUESTION: Mr. President...

BUSH: I hate to cut you off. You're on a roll, but -- what's the question.

QUESTION: Mr. President, all I could tell you, I have two members of my family, they are in the Iraqi parliament, and both of them are women. My sister-in-law and my aunt, they are in the Iraqi parliaments. And I would like you to share this happiness with me and with all the Iraqi people.

Thank you, Mr. President.

BUSH: Thank you.


And here's my message, here's my message to your relatives in the Iraqi parliament: Work to form a unity government, a government that includes the minorities in the country, a Shia, Kurd and Sunni -- no, no, no, no...


No. Thank you.


QUESTION: My husband is Sunni, my mother-in-law was a Christian Catholic, I am Kurdish.


BUSH: Thank you.

Got a question?

Only in America.


Hold on.
I wish I could read the transcript of what ran through his head. Thanks. Nice. Are you going to enumerate every family member? Shut uuuuuup! How can I say shut up nicely? What would Laura do?

I also liked seeing Wisconsin in the transcript. Bush is calling on a questioner who's wearing a hat with a W:
BUSH: Is that a Washington Nationals hat?

QUESTION: Wisconsin, actually.

BUSH: OK, yes.

QUESTION: "W" is for Wisconsin.

You're a rancher. A lot of here in Kansas are ranchers. I was just wanting to get your opinion on "Brokeback Mountain" if you've seen it yet.


You would love it. You should check it out.

BUSH: I hadn't seen it. I'd be glad to talk about ranching, but I haven't seen the movie.


I've heard about it.


I hope you go, you know...


I hope you go back to the ranch and the farms is what I was about to say.


I hadn't seen it.


Well, I haven't heard this one live, but as I'm "hearing" the line "I hope you go, you know..." as telling the student to go get %$#!ed. In the nicest possible way.


Mark Daniels said...

While eating a late lunch yesterday, I turned on the President's appearance at Kansas State.

I thought that the interchange between the President and the Kurdish-Iraqi student surfaced just how hard it is going to be to have a stable democratic government in Iraq. When the President talked about how important it is that the new government include all Iraqis, including Sunnis, the student became incensed. Somebody in the auditorium was able to shut off the student or the microphone. The President quipped, "Only in America," apparently extolling our democracy. But I couldn't help thinking, "Yeah, only in America can we shut that animosity down. In Iraq, it will be expressed." It's an ongoing reality of life there and the Iraqis are going to have to overcome it if they are to enjoy peace and stability. I pray that they can accomplish that.

The other interesting thing I saw during the portion of the Q-and-A session I viewed was the President once again addressing the Social Security issue, once more advocating personal retirement accounts for younger workers. He emphasized that the country needed to guarantee the continuance of Social Security through the adoption of various reforms, including the personal accounts.

I thought it a bit ironic because the President made his remarks in the Landon Center. Alf Landon, the Kansas Republican defeated by Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, personally favored Social Security. But many Republicans campaigning on his behalf that year were ardently opposed to the program and attacked it repeatedly. In fact, it was the Roosevelt-Landon campaign more than any other that caused the Republican Party to be seen as anti-Social Security. (Adding further irony to this characterization of the GOP is the fact that FDR's next Republican opponent, Wendell Wilke, also favored Social Security.)

Mark Daniels

David said...

If the Iraqi-Kurd had been allowed to continue she would have hurt her cause and risked being accused of being a 'plant' by Rove. She spoke from the heart and was convincing in her personal point of view.

As far as social security is concerned, it is failing rapidly and will have to adjust to changing circumstances in order to remain viable. To ignore the fact that our society has made quantum leaps since the social security plan was first introduced is suicidal as an economic policy.

Social security will keep you in cat food for retirement. Even if you have your house paid for you won't be able to afford property taxes on it if SS is your only source of income. If you don't own a house you will be constantly faced with rising rental costs on a limited income. Depend on yourself and not the government for retirement income.

Opposition to Iraq and social security is failing because it relies on the false and absurd "I hate Bush" excuse for policy.

Bruce Hayden said...

I heard the Brokeback Mtn. segment a couple of times, and not sure if it really was a put down or what. I think obviously that the President understood the reference there, but I think diplomatically refused to take the bait.

After all, people try to trip up politicians all the time, and in order to survive and get to the level he has reached, he has had to get pretty good at avoiding questions that would not to his advantage to answer.

Sloanasaurus said...

It was hard not to choke up during her question. Who else in the world frees people from tyranny other than the United States. No one.

Sloanasaurus said...

But I couldn't help thinking, "Yeah, only in America can we shut that animosity down. In Iraq, it will be expressed."

This is a pretty bold comment. Do you have a factual example of where free speech was "shut down," or are you just a lying shill.

I thought so... a lying shill

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
price said...

Look, I'm sorry, but he's charming.

Henry said...

Wow, what a lot of missed meanings.

I think Ann was suggesting the president was telling the student "go get lucky!"

You know, go get %$#!ed. In the nicest possible way.

Ann Althouse said...

Simon: Your interpretation would work if he stress "you." I didn't hear it live. My interpretation is based on the placement of the laughter and the following line.

Coco said...

Mark Daniels: "But I couldn't help thinking, "Yeah, only in America can we shut that animosity down. In Iraq, it will be expressed."

Sloanasaurus: "This is a pretty bold comment. Do you have a factual example of where free speech was "shut down," or are you just a lying shill.

I thought so... a lying shill."

Mark Daniels should probably be the one clarifying, but I certainly didn't read his post in the manner that you did at all Sloanasaurus. To the contrary, I read it as saying that it is far easier for Americans to shut down animosities against Iraq Sunnis in light of our larger goal whereas Shiites and Kurds have much more proximate experiences (let alone historic) that will make it much more difficult. He then prayed that they are able to do so.

I'm not sure how that can make him a "lying shill" at all. However, the vitriol in your comments suggest that someone may be a "shill" but I don't think its Mark Daniels.

reader_iam said...

Wow, Sloanosaurus. I didn't read the first comment on this thread in the same was as you at all.

And Mark Daniels a lying shill?

You gotta be kidding me.

Bad day, maybe?

Jon G said...

Why do you think she was not a plant? Is it because they've never planted questions before?

ChrisO said...

I thought the funniest part was "You're a rancher.."

reader_iam said...


That got a chuckle out of me, too!

Beth said...

If the Iraqi-Kurd had been allowed to continue she would have hurt her cause and risked being accused of being a 'plant' by Rove. She spoke from the heart and was convincing in her personal point of view.

Good thing they shut off the mike, then, for her own good. It's much better to choose for people, rather than let them hurt their own cause! Please, sir, may I have another?

Charles said...

Actually, for a Middle Easterner, that woman's question was quite coherent and to the point. First you establish you are a human being, then you establish your lineage to show you have value about whatever it is you are going to say, then you recite any relevant family history, then maybe its time for the first statement of the question before you elaborate. By American standards, it's like listening to someone meander around the subject and just go on and on. She didn't understand she had to ask the question without the speech.

Sloanasaurus said...

I interpreted Mark Daniels post as arguing that in Bush is shutting down speech in America so therefore America is less free than Iraq.

If this is not what he intended, then I withdraw my comment and apologize.

bearbee said...

2 video segments here- scroll down:
Political Teen

Sigivald said...

"You're a rancher. So obviously you'll be interested in this movie about shepherds that actually isn't even really about their being shepherds, but about how much it sucked or sucks to be gay.

Because, like, uh... they're outdoors a lot, and drive trucks? You know, just like ranchers."

Jennifer said...

Charles is totally right. And, in person, the entire recitation would have been delivered within 6 inches of the listener's face.

Wade Garrett said...

I'm getting tired of these people from the southwest always repeating that Brokeback Mountain is about SHEPARDS, you panty-waisted city-slicker, not COWBOYS. We westerners know the difference, and there were no gay cowboys!! Cowboys were real men! See, they wore all white in the movies, that means they're good guys, right? As for these two sissies, of course they're shepards, mere shepards.

I guess I didn't find the Q and A to be as funny as a lot of other people did, but then I don't find him to be as charming as most people find him. If that is red-state comedy, I'm not surprised at their hatred of Hollywood.

Gerry said...


I think that Simon's take is the right one, and that the laughter was because Bush was basically saying "not my kind of movie, but knock yourself out."


Gerry said...

Actually, I just wathced all of the clip over at PoliticalTeen's site (I had only heard a portion of it on the radio this AM) and I withdraw my previous comment-- not because I think Ann's take is right, but because I am not sure Simon's (and my) take is right. I am really not sure where he was going with it.

Mark Daniels said...

I think that my comments were perhaps unclear and therefore, misunderstood.

Taking them in reverse order:

(1) I have always thought that the President's approach to Social Security has great merit. I've always favored personal retirement accounts. So, David, I was only making an historical observation, not condemning the President's initiative.

(2) I guess I can see how you interpreted my statement on the Kurdish woman's question, Sloan. But I didn't mean that we are less free in America than in Iraq. That would be an absurd statement.

What I meant is that in America, it's possible for people of varying ethnic backgrounds to live together. The old animosities are "shut down." Often, in America, people who would have been at one another's throats in "the old country" live side-by-side. That's what I thought the President meant by "only in America." The only reason the woman was "shut down" was because she went on for a long time.

Mark Daniels

PS: To tell you the truth, I never knew what the word "shill" meant before. I had to look it up. I guess that I'll have to mark this date on my calendar as the first occasion on which I was called "a lying shill." I hope that my clarification makes sense, Sloan. Thank you for your apology.

PPS: The verification code was "fffiksu," the latter three letters apparently standing for Kansas State University, where this event was held.

Jennifer said...


Great rant! Cracked me up. I've lived on a ranch in Wyoming, sure it was just a dude ranch, but we were surrounded by working ranches. And, as one of only 4 college age girls within 50 miles of Pinedale that summer who hadn't always lived there, I met lots of cowboys.

I don't think I ever met a single one who called anybody a shepherd, much less themselves. I think the only descriptive terms I ever heard other than cowboy and rancher was wrangler. And that was just on the dude ranch.

Ann Althouse said...

I looked at the clip over at Political Teen and it made me think that my interpretation is correct. Look at his face. It's hilarious. The kid was completely cheeky to ask that question and the Prez felt like delivering a zinger, which he merely indicated and then jocosely acted as if he was never going to say. It was delivered with damned good comic timing!

Sloanasaurus said...

Thanks for the clarification Mr. Daniels. My criticism of you was not warranted.

There are so many posters on this site who make the kinds of claims I thought you were alluding too, such as "Bush = Hitler" or under "Bush all our rights are in jeopardy," they get tiring and deserve to be called shills because they are frauds never back up their claims with facts.

Marilee Scott said...

Charles said: "Actually, for a Middle Easterner, that woman's question was quite coherent and to the point. First you establish you are a human being...

As a lurker, I'm sorry to come into the conversation so bluntly, but this statement is racist in a way that I would hope most commentors here would understand. Charles, I advise a more careful copyediting in the future to avoid the appearance of careless racism; if, of course, you want to argue a more careful version of racism, go ahead and do that, and take your knocks.

Jennifer said...

Jackmormon -
Don't be ridiculous. What he said was in no way racist. It was a commentary on an idiosyncracy of a different culture. Its ok to acknowledge differences between cultures. We don't all have to be the same.

Sloanasaurus said...

"....Its ok to acknowledge differences between cultures. We don't all have to be the same...."

Agreed. The same goes for women and men.

Noumenon said...

If the Iraqi-Kurd had been allowed to continue she would have hurt her cause and risked being accused of being a 'plant' by Rove.

Sorry, but I was thinking that by her third sentence. She speaks boosterism like it's her first language.

Charles' statement, far from being racist, seemed like a valuable and sensitive cultural awareness... but it would have been more convincing if she had actually done things in that order: introduction, lineage, history, statement, elaboration. Instead she led with apparent talking points -- I know I'm jaded but real people lean on personal stories and not canned statistics, and this is a staged political event that you likely have to sign a loyalty oath to get into. Although I probably prefer the staged sucking up to the staged hostile ambushes that the opposition would offer, like this Brokeback Mountain thing and the time they asked Rumsfeld about the body armor. Basically there's very little you can say and sound credible at this kind of event, compared to a blog, which is why I wouldn't bother to read the transcripts.