Those who have watched today’s White House press conference between Bush and his bitch poodle (the description of Blair on BBC4’s “Late Edition”, a sort of weekly “Daily Show”) will recall him going into overdrive answering a question from the British press corps. He was so rattled that during the following question he refered to his questioner as “a lad”
It now turns out that the question was so embarassing to Bush that the transcript on the White House site completely changes the sense. This is what it claims:
Q Mr. President, the Iraq Study Group described the situation in Iraq as grave and deteriorating. You said that the increase in attacks is unsettling. That won’t convince many people that you’re still in denial about how bad things are in Iraq, and question your sincerity about changing course
The correct version and more about the reporter follows.
The questioner was the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson. The question actually asked was
…That will convince many people that you’re still in denial about how bad things are in Iraq, and question your sincerity about changing course
You might think that this question was carefully prepared beforehand but Nick Robinson writes a blog for BBC News and today’s entry reveals that he composed it on the hoof:
Sitting in the press conference, I thought it was extraordinary that just the day after the Iraq study group had been so critical of what was happening in Iraq, the president used such soft language to describe the situation there. All we got from the president was a very gentle phrase about the trouble in Baghdad being ‘unsettling’.
That’s why I put the question to him that I did.
Just so you can verify what was actually asked, there is also a link to the relevant clip. If you do watch it, look closely at the cut-away of Blair while he answers and the subtle double take he does when Bush makes some of his wierder claims.
It also turns out that the response was a far from pleasant experience for Robinson. He wrote an interim blog (same link) what looks like as soon as he came out of the conference:
I’ve just been eyeballed long and hard by George Bush for suggesting he might be in denial re Iraq. It’s important, he told me, that you understand that I understand that it’s bad.
Perhaps he should be warned and reminded what Bush said in his answer. “I talk to families who die.”
Bush however did manage to get a snipe in at Robinson which many people may have missed. Robinson asked Blair a supplementary question and then Bush moved on to an American reporter. In his reply he demonstrated his knowledge of world culture and obviously wanted to demonstrate his empathy with Britain:
I appreciate the Prime Minister’s answer to this lad — we call them lads, in Great Britain — lad’s question, is that –(laughter)
Will anybody who has ever heard the term “lad’s question” please inform the Oxford English Dictionary! Lucky for Bush the bitch poodle was at hand to rescue him from further embarrassment.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: You’ve made a friend, I think, there. (Laughter.) It’s a long time since anyone’s called him that. (Laughter.)
As you can see that is one of the few truthful statements at the press conference.