Fetch, Heel, Stall
By Maureen Dowd
07/29/06 "New York Times" -- -- Oops, they did it again. That pesky
microphone problem that plagued George W. Bush and Tony Blair in St.
Petersburg struck again at their White House news conference
yesterday. The president told technicians to make sure his real
thoughts would not be overheard this time, but somehow someone
forgot to turn off the feed to my office. As a public service, I'd
like to reprint the candid under-their-breath mutterings they
exchanged in between their public utterances.
THE PRESIDENT: "The prime minister and I have committed our
governments to a plan to make every effort to achieve a lasting
peace out of this crisis."
"Actually, we talked about our plan to keep using fancy phrases like
'lasting peace' and 'sustainable cease-fire,' so we don't actually
have to cease the fire. Condi had a great one! Didya hear it, Tony?
She said, 'The fields of the Middle East are littered with broken
cease-fires.' Man, can she talk, and she plays piano, too!"
THE PRIME MINISTER: "The question is now how to get it stopped and
get it stopped with the urgency that the situation demands. ... I
welcome very much the fact that Secretary Rice will go back to the
region tomorrow. She will have with her the package of proposals in
order to get agreement both from the government of Israel and the
government of Lebanon on what is necessary to happen in order for
this crisis to stop."
"I thought it was quite clever, George, to stall by sending Condi to
Kuala Lumpur for that imminently skippable meeting of marginal Asian
powers. And her decision to tickle the ivories while Beirut burns
was inspired. The Asians love a good Brahms sonata. And she called
it a 'prayer for peace'! Just brilliant. But her idea of a series of
Rachmaninoff concerts at every layover on the way to the Middle East
could look too conspicuously like dawdling."
THE PRESIDENT: "Hezbollah's not a state. They're a, you know,
supposed political party that happens to be armed. Now what kind of
state is it that's got a political party that has got a militia?"
"Uh-oh! I mean, besides all those Shiite leaders we set up in Iraq
who have THEIR own militias. Oh, man, this is complicated. What
about those Republican Minutemen patrolling the Mexican border? Or
Vice on a hunting trip?"
THE PRIME MINISTER: "Of course the U.N. resolution, the passing of
it, the agreeing of it, can be the occasion for the end of
hostilities if it's acted upon, and agreed upon. And that requires
not just the government of Israel and the government of Lebanon,
obviously, to abide by it, but also for the whole of the
international community to exert the necessary pressure so that
there is the cessation of hostilities on both sides."
"And the whole of the cosmos! We can call for an intergalactic study
group to act upon and agree upon and adjudicate - George, I can keep
the verbs, adjectives and conditional phrases going until these
reporters keel over."
THE PRESIDENT: "My message is, give up your nuclear weapon and your
nuclear weapon ambitions. That's my message to Syria - I mean, to
Iran. And my message to Syria is, you know, become an active
participant in the neighborhood for peace."
"It's so hard to keep all these countries straight! And which ones
are in the Axis? I hate it when Condi leaves town. Tony Baloney,
just blink twice when I mention a bad country and once when I
mention one we like and sell arms to. And while you're at it, heel,
poodle! Har-har. Play dead! You crack me up."
THE PRIME MINISTER: "I've spoken to President Chirac, Chancellor
Merkel, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, the president of the
European Union, the prime minister of Finland and many, many
"See? I'm no poodle. I'm here to keep the names of our allies
straight. And I can stand up straight. Bush, old boy, that's not
posture. That's Paleolithic Man."
THE PRESIDENT: "And so what you're seeing is, you know, a clash of
governing styles. For example, you know, you know, the, the, the
notion of democracy beginning to emerge - emerge - scares the
ideologues, the totalitarians, and those who want to impose their
vision. It just frightens them, and so they respond. They've always
been violent. ... There's this kind of almost, you know, kind of
weird kind of elitism that says: well, maybe - maybe - certain
people in certain parts of the world shouldn't be free."
"Tony, I've fallen and I can't get up!"
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