September 1, 2004 - The winning score for George W. Bush was a 9.9 point double back flip with a twist. August 30, 2004: When Mr. Lauer asked him about the war on terrorism, Mr. Bush replied, "I don't think you can win it." The president went on to say, "I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world." August 31, 2004: "In this different kind of war, we may never sit down at a peace table," Mr. Bush told the American Legion delegates. "But make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win."
I guess last week was an experiment. They sent the President out to do unscripted on-camera interviews with NBC News and the Today show then let him sit down with Time magazine. The sent the President but Dubya showed up. In the space of just a few days he praised John Kerry’s war record and belittled his own; called his centerpiece Iraqi war a “catastrophic success; and let slip the admission that his War on Terror could not be won. In those three exchanges we got a fleeting glimpse of what our George W. Bush really thinks. With the speech to the American Legion Dubya stayed home and the President returned to the script.
Sometimes it feels like a time warp. I expect the President to step to the podium with both arms stiffly raised in the familiar Nixonian four finger salute. Day after day in 1972 the Creepers had the President tell us that victory in Vietnam was just around the corner while the secret tape recorder, the one that brought down and caught John O’Neill bragging about Cambodia, were recording his private conversations. Those tapes tell us that while Nixon was talking of victory Nixon and his inner circle knew that the war was unwinnable.
You can be sure that there won’t be any more unscripted interviews that let Dubya creep out. We will see the President with the Fox News syncopates. We will hear the President in a carefully scripted talk with Rush. He will go from one tightly controlled Ask The President session to another in which no one is permitted to ask questions and the answers appear magically on index cards. His speech to the Republican Convention will be back to the confident war leader with compassion for over taxed billionaires designed to appeal to the core – the haves and the have-mores.
There will be no more unscripted looks into what the President is really thinking. He is regaining his focus and the carefully choreographed routing is designed to please the judge’s table. It is the finals and George is going for the gold.
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