Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What the?!?!?!

I'm not sure what to say about this. Bush apparently reached behind Merkel, the German Chancellor, gave her a quick rub on the shoulders and walked on. Look at her reaction. She doth not look very happy about that. One of the commentators on this blog said the following:

Seeing her wince made me wince. In German culture, this approaches being unforgiveable. Nowhere is it appropriate, but Germans have one of the most sharply defined sense of privacy and space of any culture, even more so than frequently contact-phobic North Americans. This was a bully showing who was boss. Really, what type of married man puts his hands in a familiar way on the shoulders of a woman other than his wife? I never liked Bush but until today I did not actually hate him. I feel like writing a letter of apology on behalf of 295 million Americans, most of whom know better.

Just earlier you've got Bush cussing like a 13 year old to the Prime Minister of Britain. Michael Hirsh writes:
As he munched on a roll, Bush told the British prime minister, with whom he is very familiar terms: "See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing this s--t and it's over." Bush added that he felt like telling U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who visited the gathered leaders, to get on the phone with Syrian President Bashar Assad to "make something happen."

We don't have Blair's answer to that remark. But another question might be: why doesn't Bush himself make something happen? And to whom was Bush referring when he told Blair that "they" need to pressure Syria? If "they" meant Annan and the U.N., it is true that under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, the world body has officially demanded that Syria stop its interference in Lebanon, including its support of Hizbullah. But the U.N. Security Council generally has little capacity to act on its own, and certainly no enforcement ability. The Council is mainly a tool of the major powers. It is prime ministers and presidents like Bush who are the ones who generally put teeth into those U.N. resolutions.

Interesting that the "decider" shifts the burden of action off to others in this case. Could it be that politically speaking at home, action against Syria at this time is imprudent? After all, you've got Congressional elections happening in just a few months.

Another interesting perspective on Bush's potty-mouthing Syria:
Personally, I could care less that a grown man used a swear word when speaking to another grown man. I'm more disturbed that the President used "irony" to describe what seemed to be an entirely unironic situation. Have we learned nothing from Alanis Morrisette?

Perhaps Bush needs a lesson on what is ironic and what is not.

The real irony is that this is what many conservatives call a "statesman." Now THAT is ironic. Arianna Huffington, though, excoriates the ineptitude on display at the G-8 meeting on the part of Bush:
Churchill it ain't. Indeed, it says all you need to know about how this president's disastrous mismanagement of foreign policy has undermined America's standing in the world. The Middle East is teetering on the brink, and the President of the United States is reduced to sitting on the sidelines, helplessly ruminating on what "they" need to do to try and broker a settlement. Even worse, he tells Blair: "I felt like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen." You want irony? How about a president who has shown nothing but disdain for the UN, wistfully fantasizing about being bailed out by an organization his man John Bolton felt could lose 10 stories of its headquarters without it making "a bit of difference." You want impotence? How about a president who is so paralyzed he doesn't even tell Kofi to make the call.

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