May 17, 2007


Bush gives Blair hearty benediction (Mike Allen, May 17, 2007, AP)

The British press got off on the wrong foot with President Bush, literally. When he and Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom walked into the sunny Rose Garden just before lunchtime on Thursday, most of the foreign reporters stayed in their seats, while the White House press corps followed tradition and stood in respect.

Partly, it's a British thing: Back home, the press stands for the queen, who is the head of government, but not for the prime minister. But some of the scribes admit that it's also partly an anti-Bush thing.

After opening statements in which Bush and Blair expressed effusive respect for each other, the U.S. and British press corps alternated, getting three questions apiece.

The Brits asked blunt, even rude, questions about Blair's relevance, the cost of his embrace of Bush and the unpopularity of the president across the pond.

"That's a lovely question," Bush observed sarcastically after Adam Bolton of Sky News asked Blair what he would say to those who are saying "you should go sooner."

After a follow-up by Bolton, Bush concluded with a tart, "Nice to see you again." Blair acknowledged the awkwardness, asking playfully, "You had kind of forgotten what the British media were like, hadn't you?"

In apparent reference to the reporter's failure to stand, Bush looked at the Sky News correspondent and said: "He woke up to ask the question."

Then Bush winked at him to salve the sting.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 17, 2007 9:06 PM
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