This weeks marks the Official roll-out of Bush 2.0 - the kinder, gentler more truthy version.
After years of only making prepared statements to hand-picked and heavily screened audiences - Bush actually answered open questions from an audience in his latest speech before the Woodrow Wilson Center.
When asked why he and his administration continues to link Iraq and al-Qaeda he actually answered the question!
"September 11 changed my look on foreign policy..."
Wben asked how many Iraqis have died in the war he said "about 30,000".
In addition to this President Bush gave an exclusive and extensive interview to Brian Williams of MSNBC -- instead of Hannity at Faux News -- including answering tough questions about Katrina, The Economy, his isolation in "the Bubble", Iraq, and Torture and most importantly did it all with a smile instead of the being the scowling chimp that we've all grown to know and loath.
Just who is this guy and what has he done with the Real George W. Bush?
Crossposed on Dailykos.
Bush Talking to Williams about being in a "Bubble".
Williams: Now, how do you wake up on a Monday morning? I brought some visual aids. I have Newsweek and Time. Cover of Newsweek, look what they've done to you. "Bush's World: The isolated president, can he change?" And inside Time, it says "Bush's search for his new groove." Time magazine says you're out there talking to people. Newsweek says you're in here not talking to people. So what is truth, Mr. President?
President Bush: Well, I'm talking to you. You're a person.
Williams: This says you're in a bubble. You have a very small circle of advisors now. Is that true? Do you feel in a bubble?
President Bush: No, I don't feel in a bubble. I mean, you feel in a bubble in the sense that I can't go walking out the front gate and, you know, go shopping, like I'd love to do for my wife. Although I may, I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to buy her. Look, I feel like I'm getting really good advice from very capable people and that people from all walks of life have informed me and informed those who advise me. And I feel very comfortable that I'm very aware of what's going on.
Williams: Were you watching the coverage? Were you seeing the same pictures that Americans were seeing?
President Bush: I was. I was. I was disturbed by the fact that there's, I guess my reaction was, "Where's the communications?" I mean, we had news people able to really be the fact witness on the ground when, in fact, it should have been government officials at all levels gathering the information, sending it back to headquarters so there could be an appropriate response. [V. Yeah, you mean government officials like Marty Bahamonde?] I was amazed that our communication system was basically down to a certain extent. And the reason why it's troubling not only for the people on the ground affected by the storm, but imagine an attack or a pandemic of avian flu. And those are the lessons that we need to learn from Katrina and better prepare this nation.
President Bush: Somebody I heard -- you know, a couple of people said -- you know, said, "Bush didn't respond because of race, because he's a racist." That is absolutely wrong. And I reject that. Frankly, that's the kind of thing that -- you can call me anything you want -- but do not call me a racist. [Why not, if the shoe fits bub?] Secondly, this storm hit all up and down. It hit New Orleans. It hit down in Mississippi too. And people should not forget the damage done in Mississippi. [V. Of course not, but you didn't have people trapped and starving in the Missippi Superdome, while FEMA turned away the Red Cross did you?]
Williams: Do you see the blame as being shared? Governor, Mayor, that kind of thing?
President Bush: I hope we're beyond that. As I said, I'll take the blame for the federal response. And I genuinely mean that. But think it's very important for people to not focus on politics, but focus on how we work together to achieve what we all want, which is a Louisiana that's vibrant and a New Orleans that's a shining light down there and a Gulf Coast of Mississippi that's been rebuilt and is vibrant and thriving.
Williams: Can you meet John McCain at his definition?
President Bush: Yes, I'm confident we can. On the other hand, we want to make sure that we're in a position to be able to interrogate without torture. These are people that still want to hurt us, Brian. And the American people expect us to do that which we can do within international law and our own declaration of supporting the premises of international law is what I really meant to say -- to protect us. I mean, if they know something, we need to know it. And we think we can find it without torturing people.
[V. Sure you can, as long as you define "torture" only as causing pain that is equivelent to organ failure and death - you can still put people in stress positions and water-board them all day...]
Even though his answers are still the bullcrap we've grown to expect, this newfound candor of his shows that this is clearly this new version of Bush, one that betrays a desperate attempt to end the President's sliding poll numbers. His three speeches on Iraq, which began with a vicious attack on Democrats for "Rewriting History", have gradually been adjusted - and his poll numbers have begun to rebound.
The Latest NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll has the President at 39% Approval, 55% Disapproval. That's up from his low-point of 36% Approval/ 53% Disapproval from a Newsweek Poll on Nov. 11th, but considerably down from 42 and 43% ratings that the AP and Gallop Polls (Respectively) gave him on December 5th. He's doing better than he was, but the trend is still going through fits and coughs as it inches it way upward from the Post-Katrina/Fitzmas basement.
It just might be that the latest news on the Plamegate story where Viveca Novak of Time Magazine has apparently blown Karl Roves recollection alibi apart, has caused old Turd-blossom to be completely benched. It's possible that he's not running the show anymore, not arranging for the President to have a fake Q&A with the Troops. And the President, finally unleashed, is practically giddy about it.
It also might be, that they've changed his meds.
Just a few weaks ago there were reports that the President was "cracking up" on the eve of Fitzmas, that he was yelling at aids and losing his temper. During the interview with Williams, besides being completely at ease, he appeared rather glassy-eyed to myself and others who watched the interview with me.
"The way he clips and re-adjusts his phrasing -- seems like he's on some type of anti-depressent or mood adjusting medications" they claimed.
That's just great - now we've got President Prozac to deal with.
At any rate, the question remains as to whether this New and improved Bush is here to stay or whether he's just a temporary phenomenon - and with the Iraqi Elections taking place today, just how far Bush 2.0 will be able to pull the Republican Congress fat out of the fire prior to the mid-term elections in 06?