March 26, 2004


Bush criticized for gags about weapons search (Frank James, March 26, 2004, Chicago Tribune)

The jokes came at Wednesday night's annual Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner. In a 10-minute, mostly puckish, self-deprecating speech, the president presented a slide show he called "an election year, White House photo album."

In several photos, he appeared to be searching the Oval Office. A photo of Bush looking under a piece of furniture was flashed on the large projection screens in the ballroom.

"Those weapons of mass destruction got to be here somewhere," Bush said in his narration, drawing laughter from the audience of journalists, politicians, government workers and other guests.

Another photo showed him looking through a window. "Nope, no weapons over there," the president said.

"I'm appalled," said Larry Syverson of Richmond, Va., who has a son serving with the Army in Iraq and another who recently returned after serving in the Tikrit area. Syverson read news accounts of the event.

"I think it's in extremely poor taste," he said. "I think he owes an apology to those families who have lost loved ones there and those of us that are going through the dread every day having a son or daughter in Iraq."

Syverson recalled the displeasure many military families felt with Bush after he appeared last year to be daring Iraqi insurgents to attack U.S. troops by saying "Bring it on."

"Now he pokes fun at the reason that he told us [soldiers] went over there. I think it's extremely callous."

First of all, get over yourself you humorless git. Second, that's not why he said we went.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2004 11:44 AM

While the skit does sound a bit tasteless (and there's nothing wrong with tasteless humor in the right context) the attempt to spin this up into a scandal is just pathetic. You mean that's it? That's all the Kerry campaign has to offer-- nitpicking?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 26, 2004 12:37 PM

Call me a stick in the mud, but this is in poor taste. Anybody who's already decided to vote for Bush in November understands why we went to Iraq and knows that it wasn't entirely about WMD. However, handing the Dems live footage of the President joking about the lack of WMD doesn't gain him a single supporter he didn't already have.

Posted by: John Resnick at March 26, 2004 12:57 PM

Want sackcloth and ashes?

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2004 1:14 PM

From an old Indymedia post:

This Friday, December 12th marks the 100th anti-war protest for Richmonder
Larry Syverson. From 12 noon to 1pm, Larry will be at....

Isn't Google wonderful?

Posted by: Jason Johnson at March 26, 2004 1:27 PM

Thank you Jason. Actually I was taking the man's statement seriously until you clarified it for me. I believe we should all know where we're "coming from"

Posted by: h-man at March 26, 2004 2:12 PM

No. I'm laughing too. But he's already got my vote. Rove probably figures this is just another part of the new Ridicule Doctrine. Illustrating absurdity (that the war was solely about WMD) by being absurd is a clever humor device. But the worry wort in me fears some of the votes Bush needs won't get it.

Here, I'll save you some time:
a) don't be a humor elitist and b) he doesn't need their votes.

Posted by: John Resnick at March 26, 2004 2:27 PM

I think the Dems' attack on the President's humor may not have so much to do with the Left's humorlessness (although that's true as well) than with campaign strategy. I think the plan is to attack Bush on almost everything he does particularly if he's doing something where he looks very good. At this event, Bush appears warm, humorous and likeable. I think Dems would be especially anxious to spin this type of event in a negative way. I think that's the reason why they attacked his landing on the aircraft carrier so viciously. It was such a strong and positive image, they wanted to ruin it as soon as possible.

Posted by: L. Rogers at March 26, 2004 4:40 PM

L. Rogers:

That's part of it, but it must be admitted that the whole aircraft carrier thing was was a gamble gone wrong.
It was too positive, too early, and the "Mission Accomplished" banner put it over the top.

Let's see if any of that footage shows up in Bush's campaign ads.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at March 26, 2004 10:30 PM


Why? The war was won--the rest is just clean-up.

Posted by: oj at March 27, 2004 12:49 AM

On further reflection, this shows the extreme differences in the characters of Bush and Kerry.

Bush is willing to make self-mocking jokes about one of the two obstacles to his re-election; Kerry, even knowing that he was surrounded by the press, couldn't refrain from cursing someone who bumped into him on the slopes, and couldn't bear the thought that someone might believe that he fell down on his own.
Another missed opportunity to show that he's a good-natured man of the people.


Technically true, but not POLITICALLY true.
If you really can't see what the PR problem is here, you've been hanging out with like-minded people for too long. Get out amongst the hoi polloi for a different view.

Whatever the number of deaths per month is, that the American public can absorb without thinking of it as a "war", Iraq exceeds it.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at March 27, 2004 1:42 AM

I thought it was droll, and the lady who started complaining about it at the DoD press conf the other day was doing an Emily Littela imitation. My guess is that most of the guys in the Army thought it was funny too. Its a guy thing.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 28, 2004 11:14 PM

"handing the Dems live footage of the President joking about the lack of WMD doesn't gain him a single supporter he didn't already have. "

Don't be so sure.

Back in the early '80's I was still a good little well indoctrinated liberal who thought Reagan was the spawn of Satan. But I was also a fan of the National Lampoon, "Truly Tasteless Jokes," and other such lowbrow humor.

So while the po-faced media were jumping all over Reagan for his "I have just signed legislation outlawing Russia. The bombing begins is five minutes." mic-test gaffe, I was laughing my ass off. And I couldn't help but side with the guy being told "that's not funny!" (As a smart-ass neighbor kid used to say to teachers who used that line, "Actually, I thought it was quite comical.")

That was a major crack in the indoctrination, and my first step towards becoming a Reagan fan.

Posted by: ralph phelan at March 30, 2004 7:03 AM