If you have seen this distrubing video over at Kos’ place then you may be wondering about the preznit’s mental and physical well being.
I started genuinely questioning his mental state when I happened to catch his mini-press conference in Air Force One on Thursday. As noted yesterday by Dan Froomkin this was the first time he has deigned to address the press on board the presidential airliner since Septmebr 11, 2001.
As I was watching the president take a few questions I was reminded of the final years of the Reagan presidency, in which his handlers did most of the talking, often talking over Reagan or whispering answers in his ear.
That’s just what John McCain and Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii were doing for Bush on Thursday. They bracketted him in the plane, answering in turn questions that the president wouldn’t or just couldn’t answer. Here is a sample:
Q Some of the early polls say Kerry won last night. What do you have to say?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the voters will decide. They’ll decide on November the 2nd who they want to be the President
Q Has Kerry helped himself with these debates, if you have an opinion?
THE PRESIDENT: The voters will decide that. You know, that’s — the great thing about a campaign, all the speculation ends on election day.
SENATOR McCAIN: Can I just say, on substance there is no doubt. When you talk about Social Security, they all want to reform it — you don’t know how to pay for it, you can’t answer the question, and people notice that. On substance the President won, and that’s what the people think about when they go into the ballot booth.
Can I also say at that event afterwards, 40,000 citizens of Arizona showed up at Bank1One Ballpark. There has never been an event like that in the history of our state — not only the numbers, but the enthusiasm.
Q Mr. President, what do you think your best moment was last night?
THE PRESIDENT: Telling people what I think. You know, the pundits and the spinners and the — they’ll all have their opinion, but there’s only one opinion that matters, and that’s the opinion of the American people on November the 2nd. I feel great about where we are. There’s lot of enthusiasm for my candidacy, people have seen me lead, and they also know that I’ve got plans for the next four years. And as you’ll hear me today, I’m optimistic about the future of this country.
GOVERNOR LINGLE: I thought that a great moment was the question about jobs. It’s more than statistics. I think the President made a key point when he said the important point is that a solid education for the children in America is the best way to ensure a sound economy over the long term. It’s common-sense, it’s why No Child Left Behind is not just important for education, it’s important for the sustained economic progress of this nation. And, personally, the part I liked is when the President talked about his feelings for Mrs. Bush and his daughters — I thought that was just so touching. I think people across America felt how close they were as a family and I thought it was a really important part of the debate, as well.
Lingle and McCain spoke nearly as much as the president during the entire exchange (308 words to Bush’s 309). It’s 1987 all over again.