President Bush visited Pennsylvania a few days ago, and decided to 'treat' the locals to one of his infamous Q & A sessions, following his usual lengthy speech. Bush's Q & A's work like this. Take a question from the audience, ramble on for 10 to 20 minutes, engage in snappy patter with audience members, and occasionally insult somebody, preferrably a woman.
Of course, Bush's Q & A's audiences are carefully screened, and the questions filtered. Think about the biggest issues facing Americans today. If an audience was given free reign to question their president, would they really be asking him about tax cuts? Even when questions came up about Iraq, Iran or his decision to veto free health care benefits for millions of poor American children, they lacked bite.
Republicans used to love making fun of the lengthy speeches and diatribes that leaders like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro used to subject their people to. Not anymore. Bush is king of the waffling ramblers, and his Pennsylvania 76 minute long verbal assault was by no means his longest .
Trawling through recent transcripts of his 'improvised' 'off the cuff' Q & A sessions reveal a man with concentration problems, an aggressive and fast temper and an increasingly confusing ability to mangle quotes and basic sentences.
He openly acknowledges that his age, 61, is the reason for his memory and cognitive problems. But 61 is not old, especially for someone as supposedly fit as President Bush.
Presumably there will be a book in five or ten year's time that reveals President Bush was suffering through some kind of mental disorder, like Ronald Reagan, in his final years in office.
The infamous 'Bushisms' have lost their ability to stun and amuse in the past couple of years, mostly because there have been so many of them.
In Pennsylvania, as this AP report reveals, Bush shows that he can mangle a metaphor even better than his league of comic impersonators :
Bush gave an intriguing description about what happens when businesses expand, as was the case here at a company run by a woman.
"You know, when you give a man more money in his pocket _ in this case, a woman _ more money in her pocket to expand a business, they build new buildings. And when somebody builds a new building, somebody has got to come and build the building.
"And when the building expanded, it prevented (sic) additional opportunities for people to work. Tax cuts matter. I'm going to spend some time talking about it," the president said.
He offered a pointed description of his job.
"My job is a decision-making job. And as a result, I make a lot of decisions," the president said.
He elaborated on that point later.
"I delegate to good people. I always tell Condi Rice, `I want to remind you, Madam Secretary, who has the Ph.D. and who was the C student. And I want to remind you who the adviser is and who the president is.'
"I got a lot of Ph.D.-types and smart people around me who come into the Oval Office and say, `Mr. President, here's what's on my mind.' And I listen carefully to their advice. But having gathered the device (sic), I decide, you know, I say, `This is what we're going to do.' And it's `Yes, sir, Mr. President.' And then we get after it, implement policy."
Then a bit later :
"I'm not quite through," he said near the end. "And it's a long answer, I'm sorry. It's called filibustering." After one answer about American views of the Iraq war, Bush said sheepishly: "I think that was your question, wasn't it? The answer was so long I lost track."
He had some fun with a woman who seemed slow on the draw when Bush called on her.
"You want a little chance to collect the thoughts, you know? I mean we're talking national TV here, you know?" he said.
"I actually wrote it down so I wouldn't get flustered," the woman said.
"It didn't work," Bush said.
Bush gave an upbeat assessment of being president, despite polls showing the public overwhelmingly disapproves of the job he's doing.
"I told somebody behind stage, this has been a joyous experience being the president," Bush said. "My buddies in Texas just simply don't think I'm telling them the truth. But it is."
He forgot that he had promised a question to a woman. "When you're getting over 60, sometimes your mind slips," said Bush, who is 61.
Finally, he decided he had said enough.
"And I got to go, I hate to tell you. You're paying me too much money to be sitting here talking."