Friday, October 08, 2004

About BoyKing in a Bubble

Today's WashPost has analysis on the effects of leading a sheltered life on incumbents running for re-election:

During a campaign forum in the Cleveland suburbs last month, President Bush was asked whether he likes broccoli, to disclose his "most important legacy to the American people" and to reveal what supporters can do "to make sure that you win Ohio and get reelected."

The "Ask President Bush" forums, which on television look like freewheeling sessions with the commander in chief, are tightly managed by the Bush-Cheney campaign, with the president calling mainly on people sitting in sections filled with his most loyal supporters. At one such event, a veteran's question was whether Bush would permit him "the honor of giving our commander in chief a real Navy salute, and not a flip-flop."

Several Bush advisers said the president may well pay a price for his decision to remain isolated from tough or unexpected questions when he faces Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), whose events are notably less scripted, in a town-hall-style debate tonight at Washington University in St. Louis. The questions are likely to be tougher than those he faced when he taped an interview about parenting for the "Dr. Phil" show this summer.


Wayne Fields, a specialist in presidential rhetoric at Washington University, said the first debate showed Bush had been overprotected. "If you don't talk to the press and deal with audiences with some degree of skepticism, you can't build understanding so people have confidence in you in hard times," Fields said. "His handlers think they're doing him a favor, but they're not."

Actually, Fields, they are doing him a favor; they're just doing a vast disservice to the American people. When allowed to meet 'regular folks' in uncontrolled settings, the true Bush emerges, as witness the "who cares what you think?" response he gave a citizen in July 2001. Interestingly, the adminstration handlers have ensured that no unscreened and unadoring American be allowed in the Presence since that time.


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