Saturday, September 11, 2004

Remember this Guy?

Remember how, before the war, he held a special election to confirm his legitimacy as ruler of Iraq? There was a 100% voter turnout, and Saddam got 100% of the vote. Remember the mass demonstrations that proved to the world how popular the guy was?

<>ﺔﻳﻭﺎﻤﻴﻛ ﺏﺮﺤﻟ ﻕﺍﺮﻌﻟﺍ ﺩﺍﺪﻌﺘﺳﺍ ﻦﻋ ءﺎﺒﻧﺃ
Pro-Saddam demonstration in Baghdad
ﻲﻗﺍﺮﻌﻟﺍ ﺲﻴﺋﺮﻠﻟ ﺍﺪﻴﻳﺄﺗ ﺩﺍﺪﻐﺑ ﻲﻓ ﺖﻤﻈﻧ ﺓﺮﻫﺎﻈﻣ

Remember how we all were convinced that the demonstrations actually had been staged, a part of a carefully scripted political scheme, to make the guy appear more popular than he really was?

Remember how proud we all felt, here in the United States of America, that our politicians don't do that? That we are better than them, because we have the freedom to express ourselves, that we won't allow ourselves to be manipulated, that our leaders do not have to choreograph their public appearances?  Do you remember that pride is one of the deadly sins?

Do you remember all of those things? Good. Now read this:

Revolt of the Press Corps
By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, August 16, 2004; 11:09 AM

The press corps appears to have had about enough of those hokey "Ask President Bush" events.

Instead of taking questions from reporters, President Bush has become increasingly partial to playing talk-show host to an audience of sycophantic fans. [...]

As John Harris writes in The Washington Post: "In loosening his style, Bush tightened his message. Fielding friendly questions at 'Ask President Bush' forums, or lathering up the crowds at pep rallies like the one here on Saturday afternoon, he presented his case for reelection with a force and fluency that sometimes eluded him at important moments over the past year."

There's never a nasty question, never a heckler, nothing but love. That makes for great imagery and great soundbytes. [...]

Bill Plante did a long report on the CBS Evening News on Friday, showing video of campaign wranglers trying to pump up the hand-picked crowd.

"The art of TV-friendly political stagecraft reaches new levels in this campaign," Plante says. "This tight control means that hecklers . . . are almost never seen at Bush events. . . .

"At events like these, it's all about getting the message without any distraction, and making sure that there's no public argument to spoil the party."

Elisabeth Bumiller writes in her White House Letter in the New York Times: "Bush campaign officials readily say that they carefully screen the crowds by distributing tickets through campaign volunteers. . . . [...]

Bumiller notes: "As of Wednesday in Wisconsin, Bush will have had 12 such campaign forums, which is one fewer than the number of solo news conferences he has had in three and a half years in the White House."

AFP writes: "President George W. Bush famously dislikes press conferences but has embraced 'Ask President Bush' sessions packed with supporters at least as eager to pay tribute to him as get an answer."

Here's the text of the most recent "Ask the President," in Beaverton, Ore. Here are the transcripts from previous events. [...]

There's more, but you get the idea.  Corpus Callosum connects.  You decide.