. . . Sunday February 8, 2004

Brow Beating

A few thoughts about the President on MTP this morning (referenced below). Overall, I would say it’s the first one of these public, political displays (speeches, debates) in which W surprised on the downside (he also surprised some by not showing up in the flightsuit). He seemed nervous and his thoughts grew more disorganized (along with a visible and steady anxiety surge) as the interview progressed. Bush began with a nearly smooth forehead. Shortly into the Iraq discussion, a single line stretched above his brow. By the time Russert asked the follow up question, “Why do people hold you with such contempt?” the front of the Bush noggin looked like an accordion (and they were not playing his song). Russert was incredibly tough, he stuck with difficult topics, and refused to allow himself to be charmingly drawn into the Bush virtual fraternity (no towel snapping, no nicknames – Timbo, Timmy, T-Russ, T-Bone, Rusty, Pudge…). Among Russert’s most pressing questions was the following: “Now looking back, in your mind, is it worth the loss of 530 American lives and 3,000 injuries and woundings simply to remove Saddam Hussein, even though there were no weapons of mass destruction?” He was equally probing on questions about the economy. There was even a disturbingly brief aside regarding Skull and Bones. If you missed it and want to get a feel for the overall tone of this grave and gathering interview, the most telling exchange between the two came at the end of the Iraq segment:

Russert: We are going to take a quick break.

President Bush: Thank you…

Concentration is important!