When Bush ran for office in 2000, most of us on the left (or middle) side of things denounced him for what we saw him as - a dumb college frat boy with an influential daddy (Bush I), military industrial complex backers (Cheney), and friends who claim to speak for God (DeLay). But Bush supporters - not unlike Clinton supporters in the early 1990s who looked the other way at his sexual indiscretions - swore their leader was fit for office. To him they ascribed great character traits - especially after 9/11. Sure he wasn't the most eloquent leader, but neither was Disney's version of Davey Crockett or Forrest Gump. And that's what they saw in him - a guy who was plainspoken but spoke from his gut. A guy who wasn't brilliant, but still would do good.
As the audiotape from the G-8 summit clearly shows, Bush speaks from his gut alright. Perhaps too much from his gut. When the word "yo" first appeared in American dialogue (roughly around the time hip hop emerged as a commercial artform) it was a hip hop slang word. It was used outside of that of course, but it is not a word my grandmother would use. Rather, it's the kind of word your high school English teacher would take you to task for uttering.
So the transcript of Bush's dialogue with Tony Blair at the summit in St. Petersburg is truly interesting. Because Bush not only said the dreaded 's' word, but because of his whole demeanor - starting with the word 'yo'
Bush: Yo, Blair. What are you doing? Are you leaving?
Blair: No, not yet. On this trade thing…
Bush: Yeah, I told that to (inaudible). If you want me to. I just want some movement. Yesterday I didn't see much movement. The desire to move.
Bush heard swearing about Syria
Blair: It may be that it’s impossible.
Bush: I'll be glad to say. Who's introducing me?
Bush: Well tell her to call on it. Well, tell her to put me on the spot.
Thanks for the sweater; it was awfully thoughtful of you. I know you picked it out yourself.
Blair: Oh, absolutely!
What about Kofi Annan? I don't like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically cease-fire and everything else happens.
I think the thing that is really difficult is you can’t stop this unless you get this international presence agreed. Now, I know what you guys have talked about but it's the same thing.
The next remarks are i naudible, but the conversation turns to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Blair: . . . see how reliable that is. But you need that done quickly.
Bush: Yeah, she's going. I think Condi's going to go pretty soon.
Blair: Right. Well, that's, that's, that's all that matters. If you -- see, it'll take some time to get out there. But at least it gives people a --
Bush: A process, I agree. I told her your offer too.
It's unclear what offer he means, but apparently Blair offered to make some sort of public statement.
Blair: Well, it's only if it's -- I mean, you know, if she's gotta -- or if she needs the ground prepared, as it were. Obviously, if she goes out, she's got to succeed, as it were, whereas I can just go out and talk.
Bush: See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over.
I don't know, but the the "shit" thing seems the least of what makes reading this transcript funny over and over again. Earlier in the dialogue, there's this gem.
Bush: It takes him eight hours to fly home. Eight hours. Russia's big and so is China.
Russia's big. And so is China. Wow. Apparently people are already printing up "Yo, Blair" t-shirts and making a fortune. But personally, I'd prefer a shirt that just said "Russia's big and so is China." That one was my personal favorite. I used to hate Bush, but now I don't hate him anymore. I don't even feel sorry for him. I am just sort of - puzzled by him. He is our president. He sits in the same office as James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and JFK once did. It's sort of like listening to a heady Jefferson Airplane record from 1968 where they are singing "up against the wall, motherfucker" and then hearing Starship sing "We Built This City" 16 years later. What the hell happened? Is that was has happened to the US? Are we past our peak? Are we in the middle of, for lack of better terms, a midlife crises/sophomore slump?
And you Estonians are worried about whether your next president will be the septegenarian from Saaremaa with the impeccably combed white hair (Rüütel), the bachelorette astrophysicist (Ergma), or the europarliamentarian with the bow tie (Ilves). Maybe we can take some of your presidential rejects and use them here in Washington.