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May 15, 2008


i saw this on olbermann - there are actually pictures of it.

but that said, i think the question saves him a little (just a wee wee little bit). when i first heard the story, i thought the question would be "what have you sacrificed"?).

instead, it was the reporter that brought it up. granted, he should have said, "no, i've just been busy." but still, the reporter did bring it up.

i mean, it's still pretty appalling, but since it was an improvement on my baseline expectations, i was actually a bit relieved to see the question.

Crooks and Liars has the video and transcript of Keith Olbermann's Special Comment here.

""Q: Mr. President, you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?"

How is it possible that question was not planted. There is no way that Allen would have linked the two if he hadn't been asked to by the President's advisors.

That makes it worse. Bush didn't just think this would be a clever thing to say on the spur of the moment. He and his handlers actually planned to say this.

Think of all the things that grew here,
long before we moved here.
All of it good and strong,
and all of it gone.
After that last unholy row
I never, ever play basketball now.
It joins the list of things I'll miss
like fencing foils, and lovely girls
I'll never kiss.

"Crooks and Liars has the video and transcript of Keith Olbermann's Special Comment here."

I counted fifteen "sirs".

I'm with NYT. That's the first thing I thought when I read the wording of the original question. It HAD to be a plant or at least a intentional leak to the media.

Agree that the question was planted or suggested. Look, Bush doesn't give a damn about the soldiers. Remember the under-armored Humvees? Or the extended tours and multiple call-ups?

He doesn't give a damn, just like during Katrina. All he typically ends up doing is saying that we should pray for whoever-is-suffering at the moment. BFD.

And he's still at it. Have you watched his "shrug-don't-care" body language when it comes to the Burma disaster? He only likes the occasional thrill when he's being macho. Other than that, he's not interested in being president, and that's why Cheney has exercised so much control (which Bush has frankly admitted to, without any sense of embarassment).

Dear Hilzoy. I trust you are well.

Regretfully, I disagree with your comments about Pres. Bush and his giving up golf for the time being. The HOSTILITY you seem to have for Pres. Bush seem to make it impossible for you to thin of anything but the basest or stupidest motives on his part.

Sorry, I understood Pres. Bush's gesture in the sense opposite to yours. And, I'm sure MILLIONS of Americans of all stripes would agree with me.

Btw, I'm back to work this week. That may cut down on me participating in this blog.

Sincerely, Sean

Bush: Yes, it really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf.

When I read this bit, I wondered if maybe it was just my deep dislike of the guy that made me think it was BS.

But how could someone who really truly thought that, who really was so concerned about how mothers of dead soldiers would feel when watching, crack those jokes about not being able to find the WMD's under his office wicker whatnot.

So sorry Sean M.Brooks, I can't see it being honest.

He gave up golf so he wouldn't 'send the wrong signal', but he didn't give up looking behind his couch for WMDs at the White House Correspondents' Dinner?

I guess my real problem is still with the lies, bad faith and incompetence. It would be nice to have him STFU, though.

Also note that Bush's supposed "sacrifice" doesn't involve him actually, you know, doing anything for military families, but is instead predicated on how he might be perceived. This man is composed of nothing but ego and incompetence. It's really breathtaking.

To show my solidarity with the great suffering of the people of Burma, I've decided to only put 2 olives in my martini rather than 3.

Jeebus, it really is almost that insensitive. And of course, I am not personally responsible for the cyclone...

Sorry to contradict all your cheerful dissing of the President. In fairness, I too used to inveigh against what I took to be his monumental stupidity, venality, insensitivity, and incompetence. But no more. In a moment of blessed insight, I suddenly understood: W is our first postmodern President.

You will scoff, perhaps, but consider. The Columbia Encyclopedia says postmodernism "is cool, ironic, and accepting of the fragmentation of contemporary existence. It tends to concentrate on surfaces rather than depths, to blur the distinctions between high and low culture, and as a whole to challenge a wide variety of traditional cultural values."

Surface rather than depth. Blurred distinctions. Challenge traditional cultural values. Does that frame not perfectly suit the image of our President?

I endorse the position that the question was planted. Administration PR aparatchiks obviously thought that framing Bush in lent-like denial for 5 years would be a winner. Idiots.

How do you end up telling a lie like that, I wonder?

If you haven't read it before, I highly recommend Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit". It's widely available, and it's short. You could read it, carefully and thoroughly, in a weekend.

The short form doesn't do justice to Frankfurt's thoughtful argument, but I'll offer it anyway:

Liars deliberate say things that aren't true, in order to mislead.

Bullshitters don't particularly care if what they say is true, or not. The truth doesn't enter into it at all. They're only interested in the instrumental value of their statements.

We live in the kingdom of bullshit, and George Bush is its prince.

I'm sure MILLIONS of Americans of all stripes would agree with me.

Manifestly so. Make of it what you will.

Glad to hear you're feeling better, Sean.

Thanks -

I, too, have sacrificed. A small sampling of things I've given up in solidarity with the President:

1. My job as CEO of Goldman Sachs.
2. Providing golf tips to Tiger Woods.
3. Sunday brunches with Queen Elizabeth.
4. My private island in the South Pacific
5. The starring role in Spielberg's next movie.
6. Sleeping with Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley, and Scarlett Johansson (together, that is, mind you, giving up sleeping with them separately? Well, one can only sacrifice so much).

Oh, how this pains me.

Being impressionable that way, I’ll yet again cite Ellen Ladowsky’s statement twice made in her and Rob Long’s bhtv episode, “Neuroses, Psychoses, and Politics”;
Bush is evil.

Not to dwell on what it may imply as possible in the run-up to next January, but it leaves the field of uneasy uncertainty wide open.

David Kilmer; with apologies for my ignorance, what’s the attribution for your lyric?

Phil Sheehan; d’accord.

Sean: "Sorry, I understood Pres. Bush's gesture in the sense opposite to yours. And, I'm sure MILLIONS of Americans of all stripes would agree with me."

What do you make of the fact that, apparently, he didn't even make that gesture?

Also: I would not be as hostile had Bush done *any* of the things he might have done that would have demonstrated real solidarity. Leaving aside the question whether or not we should have gone to war in the first place -- which is a pretty big thing to leave aside -- he has done an absolutely terrible job of making sure that any casualties we took were necessary.

I mean, how hard would it have been to ask: what's our plan for after we take Baghdad? Or: have we made sure that none of those weapons that are lying around can be used against our troops?

If he had done those things, and also given up golf, I would take a very different view of it. In reality, he didn't do any of those things, said he gave up *golf* as a form of solidarity, *and didn't even do that.*

Ugh; renunciation of personal pleasure in the face of pain imposed upon others in proportions similar to Bush’s practice excludes possible comparison.

But I feel your pain.

Just you wait, though.

Given his absence of feeling for the health of the Nation (neglecting for the present the health of humanity) and his affection for Apocalypse I can only hope He who restrains chaos will continue restraining.

Everyone jokes about this or that story being akin to an Onion article. But when I saw the AP article on this story, I instinctively started looking for any indicia of a send-up. Nothin'. I also checked the date to make sure it wasn't April 1. Nope--we're well into May.

My leading theory now is that I'm a brain in a vat.

felix culpa - It's Prefab Sprout, from Swoon. They're a great band, but they had trouble reaching working class whites. Too effete and whatnot.

Bob Hope, who entertained battle-hardened troops in what ..... three major wars and more, not only didn't give up golf, he cracked them up with golf jokes while goosing Jill St. John, Jayne Mansfield, and Joey Heatherton.

They didn't seem to mind, the troops that is. I can't speak for Ms. Heatherton.

Lemme tell ya what Bush gave up, in Hope's words:

"If you watch a game, it's fun. If you play, it's recreation. If you work at it, it's golf."

See, it was just another in a long line of escapes from labor and responsibility.

Heck, Dick Cheney not only would have played MORE golf if he wasn't so preoccupied with shooting sparrows in a barrel, but he would have brazenly cheated on camera by kicking his ball out of the rough while minimizing the body count in front of the assembled MSM.

As Jack Nicholson, the diabolically grinning actor who takes his golf very seriously said once, "If you don't watch out, I'll cheat ya!"

Years ago, a softball team I played for would have an annual golf tournament. I was in a foursome whose members were, let's say, more interested in the vodka tonic twofers being offered by the winsome drink caddies. A buddy, who has an awful temper and should never have been permitted near golf, put together a string of tee-off drives on the first 12 holes or so that totaled maybe 232 yards between them.

On hole 13, he topped the ball which bounced straight up in the air and landed kerplunk exactly one foot in front of his tee as he shaded his eyes like Gary Player at Augusta trying to spot the ball landing on the distant green.

He took his driver and winged that thing about 100 yards (longest shot all day). Alas, that #1 wood took a sharp hook to the left at the last second, after spinning through the air sounding like the thwump-thwump of helicopter blades, and landed over a fence, splashing into a little plastic swimming pool in someone's backyard. The little kids luckily were taking a peanut butter and jelly sandwich break up on the porch.

I was ready for this, having "played" golf with this guy before. As we teed up on the next hole, I pulled a softball bat out of my bag and handed it to him and for the rest of the day he threw the golfball into the air and fungoed it down the middle of the fairway.

I think he sunk a 12-foot putt with it on 18, or maybe I'm making that up.

There's a lesson here, much to my chagrin.

Nobody quits golf.

Even the troops know that.

NYT has it exactly right. Allen's interview was called 'moronic" by Froomkin.

And most likely he quit because he was a crappy golfer and every shank was a metaphor, and the little weany could stand anything that diminishes him. Naturally he thinks up a lie to make it seem magnanimous -- a common decent by the ego driven.

Either that, or he could not convince his handlers that it was OK to dedicate every round of golf to the latest dead soldier.

Bush, Kennebunkport, Maine, 8/4/02.

"I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive."

Anyone who saw Fahrenheit 9/11 remembers that scene, but it was something written about contemporaneously in the WaPo under the headline "Before Golf, Bush Decries Latest Middle East Deaths."

He was talking about a suicide bombing in Israel at the time, but imagine the same headline involving soldiers' deaths in Iraq.

Don't blame poor George. He's so devoid of vice that any tiny one left would look ridicilous to give up as a sacrifice. If he were a wicked person, he could give up drugs, booze, hookers, beating people up, arson etc. Can you blame him for not eating that famous fake turkey? [/snark]
But he may not live in fear. It is unlikely that it will be used aginst him in court.

"The end is near but golf goes on."

Sorry, I understood Pres. Bush's gesture in the sense opposite to yours.

I'll bite: how?

"he quit because"

"Pres. Bush's gesture"

One more time: he did not, in fact, actually quit golf.

I mean, it would have been a pretty lame form of solidarity if he had. But he didn't even do that.

Sorry, let me rephrase...

Sean: assuming, arguendo, that he quit golf -- which he didn't -- in what sense do you understand this "sacrifice" differently from hilzoy (and, um, everyone else here)?

If it is was a planted question and response, I have even less respect for Bush's political skills than before. What a stupid thing to do on purpose.

Actually, I'd be happy if he quit presidenting and played more golf. Even if he triple bogies every hole, he'd be better at it.

Noone should ever be in the slightest doubt that ***ANYTHING*** George W. Bush thinks, says, or does, has ever thought, said, or done say from his mid to late 20's, or will ever think, say, or do, has ever or will ever be anything except half-assed.

Sebastian: How about a question and response planned by GWB? If it was his idea, who on the staff would say no?

"Sebastian: How about a question and response planned by GWB? If it was his idea, who on the staff would say no?"

I don't understand what you're asking. Whether the idea originated with Bush, or someone on his staff, the other parties should have nixed it.

Well clearly, what happened was that "People" told him that he stopped golfing because of de Mello's death, and he took them at their word. Happens all the time.

Sebastian: Agreed that it should have been killed. I am assuming (based on some reports, perhaps not reliable) that GWB, once he has an idea, does not like to change his mind, and takes it badly when others try to argue with him. Seven years of that, and it is quite possible that the staff no longer tries. Just picture that we are talking about, say, Louis XVI and his courtiers.

Ah, Pollo gives me my opening where I claim to tie it all together.

Last big film I worked on, now too many years ago, was regarded on-set as a film by and for golfers. They’d hoped to get Nicklaus for a cameo, had to settle for Chi Chi Rodriguez. The cast gifts were minor golf gear. Minor.

Probably the only time Hackman was upstaged by an unveiled bum, at least of the male persuasion. (Yes, mine. Intended as a leitmotif, a running gag, as ’twere, but mostly lost to the proverbial floor.) At least they saved that scene, where said bum (lest it be obscure, we’re talking glutes here) steps on camera just as Hackman’s character, just-retired POTUS, utters the line “I used to have some dignity”.

Opened in forty cities worldwide. One of those undistinguished by-the-numbers movies.

I think there’s some kind of point here, other than a chance to display my socially counter-productive notion of what might be a point of pride. Other than uniqueness.

If I could stand to put it together, I guess GWB and I have something in common.

Take that, Thullen.

Make no mistake. The poster wasn’t there in the theatrical release.

That's right up there with Russert Pumpkinhead writing about how he hasn't honked his car horn because of 9/11. Oh, the sacrifices that are required of the rich and powerful.

yes, golfing is such a terrible thing to do while president.

And in addition to golf, Bush apparently should have given up all outside activities, including celebrating a daughter's wedding.

And most likely he quit because he was a crappy golfer and every shank was a metaphor, and the little weany could stand anything that diminishes him. Naturally he thinks up a lie to make it seem magnanimous -- a common decent by the ego driven.

It sounds as if the reason he quit golf was because of a meniscus tear in his knee. Apparently, he got the same treatment to fix it that the troops are getting at Walter Reed.

"The end is HERE, but golf goes on."

(Misremembered earlier. Sorry. Here's the proper cite)
Ferlinghetti -Junkman's Obbligato

yes, golfing is such a terrible thing to do while president.

Yes, because the world was exactly the same in 1995 as it was in 2003. Certainly, nothing had changed everything.

BC, is there some reason you're having trouble distinguishing between playing golf and pretending to have given up golf out of respect for the troops? They seem pretty distinct to me.

I took it and I like it.

Someday, felix, we'll have a little movie festival and you can show me your 28 credits and I'll point just to the right, barely off-screen on my one sorry credit where I was machine-gunning everyone in sight.

You'll have to take my word for it. It wasn't Brahams, if you know what I mean.

Two words: apocalypse now

Nor was it "Brahms", he yodeled.

If you haven't read it before, I highly recommend Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit".

Second this. It's classic. Should be required reading for, like, everyone.

My leading theory now is that I'm a brain in a vat.

Speaking only for myself, I'm wondering if I'm not a brain in a vat at the controls of a runaway trolley.

(Sorry, as to the actual post I got nothin'. I mean, um, yeah.)

"What a stupid thing to do on purpose."

The perfect epitaph for the Bush presidency.

Darn that Thullen with his followup. I was all set to inquire if he was writing about Brahams bulls.
But sure I know what yodelling (not to mention Tuvan throat singing; h/t LJ) requiemires from Brahams.

This is, I am, too close to over.(after that I must return to my someday-and-someday-and-someday treadmill) the Silliness Line.

Still, if you have no documentation on yodeling from your organ playing Brahms in a mountaintop snowstorm in a reverent and elegiac but brilliantly hopeful tremolo, at least we may hope to someday™ see celluloid evidence of your heroically but brutally bloodthirsty ordnance-crazed android?

I live in hope.
Like so many, it’s mostly all I have left.

Heartily thank Heaven for Ob Wi. Hilzoy the blessed.

I must be in the minority here, because I actually don't see the big deal.

He wasn't asked about what sacrifices he had made for the troops. Rather, he was asked why he hasn't played golf. If he had been answering the first question, well then that answer would have been bad. But to answer the second question leaves open the possibility that golfing is one sacrifice among others. Eh, well, I'm fine with that.

As far as hypocrisy goes (the fact that he didn't even abstain), he wasn't stating some commitment never to play golf. He just said that Iraq explained why he hadn't. It was an explanation, not a pledge.

But Ara, the explanation was a lie, because he did in fact play golf on a date after the date he later claimed was the date he gave up golf for Iraq. It's not hypocrisy, it's a simple, old-fashioned lie about what happened.

And if you can name one other sacrifice he has ever made for Iraq (not counting other people's money, lives, liberty, thumbs, etc.), I'll be surprised. The problem is not that he said "this is my one and only sacrifice for Iraq," it's that he went out of his way to identify a sacrifice he had made for Iraq, the only one anyone knows of, and it's, um, golf.

Sure, I'm a lot more bothered by his sacrifice of money, lives, liberties, and thumbs, but this is pretty tacky.

"He doesn't give a damn,"

This is a mind-reading claim, you know. It's not falsifiable, so what's the point of making it? To have more pointless arguments with no possible resolution? Is that a productive discussion to try to get others to engage in?

I expect to be stricken by lightning any moment now, but I'll take the President's side on this one also. It's obviously a plant, and the point is that he wanted to cut back on frivolity in the face of suffering. I can understand the impulse.

It's lame to tout this, though.

. . .you're having trouble distinguishing between playing golf and pretending to have given up golf out of respect for the troops?

Actually, I have no trouble with the distinction and was in no way trying to create a perfect analogy. So he was off a few months on when he quit. Big deal. Stupid question in the first place. If the admin put the reporter up to it, it's even more stupid.

But lacking Thullen's creativity and having only my free association to offer, I simply shared. I was simply reminded of Bill putting on the lawn during Bosnia and the ludicrousness of kos. Sorry, no deep thoughts or analysis on the "no golf for the soldiers" topic.

The problem here, bc, is the fundamental difference between the fighting in Bosnia and this supposed War On Everything We Don't Like. The former was an armed intervention into a messy civil war; unpleasant, dangerous for our troops, but definitely an external conflict into which we inserted ourselves for humanitarian reasons. This WOEWDL is being portrayed -- by, let's be clear, the President himself -- as an epic clash of civilizations, with the very existence of the United States at stake. It's so serious that they have had to sorrowfully* had to overturn several governmental traditions and suspend significant portions of the Constitution in order to maintain this struggle.

And in the light of this... Bush thinks that having quit golf warrants mention? That somehow giving up golf is a meaningful sacrifice in the face of the possible annihilation of the entirety of Western civilization? And worse, that he thinks that we, the American people, are dumb enough to go "Huh. I never thought about it like that, but clearly giving up golf is exactly the kind of deep personal sacrifice we expect from our leaders in times of total existential crises!"?

As hilzoy said: pretty lame.

* No, really! Just ask them!

It's so serious that they have sorrowfully* had to overturn several governmental traditions and suspend significant portions of the Constitution in order to maintain this struggle.

No, they're not sorrowful, they're proud. Because their action is so extreme, that shows just how great their will to win the War on Abstract Nouns is. They are the Jack Bauers of constitutional law.

IMO the gold standard for heads of state acting 'in solidarity with the people' was King George and his family remaining in London during the Blitz.

Quoth the late Queen Mum at the time:

The princesses will never leave without me; I will not leave without the King, and the King will never leave

This is during the Blitz, when the city was being bombed regularly. Buckingham Palace was hit a number of times.

In case anyone actually wants to know, that is what 'solidarity' looks like. Taking on yourself the same risks and costs that others are required to bear.

The rest is BS. End of story, full stop.

Yes, it's a high bar. Then again, public leadership is not, or at least ought not be, a job for clowns, asshats, and posers.

The Brits get this, especially the royal family. Some Americans do. George W Bush does not, never has, and likely never will. It's not in him.

Thanks -

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