Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Bush to Reporters: Lighten Up

As seen at today's Best of the Web, this remarkable anecdote from Holly Bailey, writing in Newsweek:

I Have Had My Differences With Members of the Press. But it's Nothing That Burying them Under Tons of Earth Won't Solve

Does President Bush have it in for the press corps? Touring a Caterpillar factory in Peoria, Ill., the Commander in Chief got behind the wheel of a giant tractor and played chicken with a few wayward reporters. Wearing a pair of stylish safety glasses--at least more stylish than most safety glasses--Bush got a mini-tour of the factory before delivering remarks on the economy. "I would suggest moving back," Bush said as he climbed into the cab of a massive D-10 tractor. "I'm about to crank this sucker up." As the engine roared to life, White House staffers tried to steer the press corps to safety, but when the tractor lurched forward, they too were forced to scramble for safety."Get out of the way!" a news photographer yelled. "I think he might run us over!" said another. White House aides tried to herd the reporters the right way without getting run over themselves. Even the Secret Service got involved, as one agent began yelling at reporters to get clear of the tractor. Watching the chaos below, Bush looked out the tractor's window and laughed, steering the massive machine into the spot where most of the press corps had been positioned. The episode lasted about a minute, and Bush was still laughing when he pulled to a stop. He gave reporters a thumbs-up. "If you've never driven a D-10, it's the coolest experience," Bush said afterward. Yeah, almost as much fun as seeing your life flash before your eyes.

Perhaps I'm misjudging the poor woman. But I have a feeling that Mr. Bush's predecessor would not have gotten this treatment; he would have been called "playful", or "carefree", or some such. He certainly would not have received a totally-unfounded accusation involving "burying [people] under tons of earth".

Honestly, I don't think the President was feeling homicidal. I suspect he was just experiencing what many men occasionally do -- hey look, there's a really cool big machine, let's fire it up and drive it around a bit! (In the process, he was also disproving the accusation that used to be standard about him -- that he's "all hat and no cowboy". Clearly, the man doesn't mind getting his hands dirty.)

I mean, have a look at the Wikipedia photo, which Ms. Bailey helpfully links. Doesn't that look like fun?

And frankly... given what the press, Newsweek included, has been writing about him these past six years, I'm glad to hear that he still has a sense of humor.

Of course, if Ms. Bailey finds the Presidential beat too nerve-wracking for her, she could always ask for a transfer. For example, she could cover Dick Cheney's hunting expeditions.

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