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  xWednesday, August 14, 2002

omlette du forum-age


Slate political correspondent William Saletan asks, "Where were the ‘regular folks’ at the president’s economic summit?" Key quotes:

Indeed, nearly everybody in the two panel discussions aired on C-SPAN today was a CEO. The others were a student at Yale’s graduate school of management; a woman who, combined with her husband’s, had five college degrees; and a pair of union bosses who wore suits and talked only about the Bush policies they supported. Like plantation owners, the employers on hand spoke for their employees. “They are so happy to have jobs,” one CEO told Bush.

Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill ... opened with standard Bush administration talking points: Some people are suffering, but the economy is sound; Bush’s tax cuts helped cure the recession; and what we need now is more tax cuts and less regulation. Then they threw it open to the participants, who suggested that Bush should rethink … nothing.

Of course, if all these people agreed with Bush beforehand, then the event wasn’t about listening. It was about selling Bush’s policies. And if the public had already agreed with Bush, the sales job would have been unnecessary. ... In short, the operational premise of the event was that its stated premise was false: The “real people” onstage held beliefs that the real people watching it didn’t share. That ruse may have been economical. But it wasn’t very presidential, and it certainly wasn’t a forum.


Via LeanLeft, who adds:
Imagine that [Karl] Rove had not stuffed the forum with campaign donors and friends of the Administration's policies. Imagine how effective this could have been if Bush and his people had stood up to harsh questioning and successfully defended their policies. That would have been impressive, and would have gone a long way to sell their policies.

Now, I don't think they can defend their economic policies in front of a hostile crowd, and neither does Rove, apparently. Rove's problem is that he saw the alternative to be what he built - an extended photo-op that everyone knows was a snow job, and no one would be afraid to label a snow job. At best, people will ignore it. They could, however, also see it as just one more example of Bush being disconnected from ordinary concerns.

Right below this post is a little comment device (as long as enetation is up and running). That means if you agree-or disagree--with what I have to say, you're free to respond; you can also email. Many bloggers use one of not both ffedback systems, and I believe that doing so indicates

  1. openness to other people's points of view, even if they are different

  2. confidence that one's positions can withstand challenges

  3. the intellectual honesty to stand corrected if necessary


Contrast that with the Bush forum....indeed, his entire autocratic bitartisan governmental style. 'Nuff said.