Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 16, 2005
POLITICS: Jeff Gannon, Call Your Office

OK, for all the folks up in arms about Gannon asking the president a loaded, biased question, let's take on another White House correspondent, Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times:

Bumiller described Wolfowitz as "a chief architect of one of the most unpopular wars in history." The president was clearly surprised by the opinionated slant of the question, as was just about everyone in the room. After laughing, President Bush responded, "That's an interesting start."

Here's the full exchange:


Q Paul Wolfowitz, who was the -- a chief architect of one of the most unpopular wars in our history --

THE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) That's an interesting start. (Laughter.)

Q -- is your choice to be the President of the World Bank. What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:23 PM | Politics 2005 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (1)

Just for clarification's sake: What war in U.S. history has been less popular than the one we are currently engaged in?

Posted by: jim at March 17, 2005 11:34 AM

Right you are, Jim.

Even if you give this war the ultimate popularity "round-up" it's only approved by half of THIS country and virtually no one else in the world. In that context, Bumiller's not exactly off the reservation.

In fact, how exactly would one phrase a question to the President regarding his giving the international community yet another giant middle finger?

Posted by: Mr Furious at March 17, 2005 12:40 PM

Well, I think the Civil War was unpopular in large parts of the country. And "most unpopular in history"? That's a bit of an exaggeration, isn't it?

Posted by: Tim at March 17, 2005 1:03 PM

Ah, but the quote is "one of the most unpopular". I don' think we can include the Civil War for a litany of reasons (it would sort of be like including the Revolutionary War by saying that it was unpopular in England). The only one that seems to fit the bill is Vietnam. So if someone can explain how this is incorrect we all are listening out here.

Posted by: jim at March 17, 2005 1:21 PM

Well, the only point of comparison is to look at American public opinion two years after the end of such wars:

Civil War (c. 1867): Extremely unpopular in the South, as the process of Reconstruction was taking place.

World War I (1920): Mixed bag. American intervention in WWI was extremely unpopular before the U.S got involved. I can't imagine it was more "popular" around 1920 given the inflation and still unresolved tensions in Europe.

WWII (1947): By 1947, the American support for WWII -- especially after victory -- was enormous.

Korean War (c. 1954): A stalemate, and not particularly popular two years later.

Vietnam (c. 1975) -- Easily less popular than the Iraq War.

Gulf War I (c. 1993): Very popular, with the quick victory.

Posted by: Josh at March 17, 2005 3:49 PM

You guys are missing the point. Bumiller isn't just saying it's one of the most unpopular war among only Americans (though it is). She's contending that its one of the more unpopular wars we've been involved in over our history, and that unpopularity is evident throughout the world.

Even if the War has debateable support here among Americans, it has almost no support around the world. And Bush is nominating a man greatly responsible for the selling of that war and its execution, for an international post supposedly representing more than U.S. interests.

The signal that this nomination (and Bolton's to the UN) send to the world is clear -- "How do you like them apples?" or as I would say on my site "F--k You, Europe. I'm george W. Bush and I approved this message."

The people running this Administration want to minimize and demean international organizations whenever possible. They continue to provoke our alllies by deliberately sending up our most objectionable candidates.

Posted by: Mr Furious at March 18, 2005 10:16 AM

Posted by: The crickets on the right hand side of the aisle.

Posted by: jim at March 18, 2005 11:19 AM

Let's not lose track of the point here. The argument against Gannon was about the use of the question to give a speech with a political point - exactly what Bumiller did here, and what many, many reporters do with a left-leaning slant on numerous occasions.

If your point is to elicit information, which is what reporters should be trying to do, you could easily frame a non-speechmaking, or at least less dramatically loaded, question: "Mr. President, given some of the conflicts between Mr. Wolfowitz and a number of our allies, particularly regarding the war in Iraq, are you concerned that this appointment sends the message to those allies that their concerns are not being respected?"

Posted by: The Crank at March 18, 2005 12:11 PM

I think the argument about Gannon goes beyond his ability to play softball. On a larger issue it was about the White House giving unfettered access to a person who was not in any way, shape or form a journalist as well as using him as W's personal parachute system. It's interesting that the right bitches about how people ask questions yet is relatively unconcerned about the truth in the questions.

Posted by: jim at March 18, 2005 1:18 PM
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