How George Bush ducks questions.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Jan. 26 2006 7:06 PM

All the President's Dodges

How George Bush ducks questions.

Download John Dickerson's weekly political podcast here, or sign up to get all of Slate's free daily podcasts at Yahoo!

(Continued from Page 1)

Abramoff:Look at the Shiny Ornament!

Another trick: Distract the questioner with something else. Show reporters a sparkly ornament, and hope we'll forget the tree it's hanging on. (Talking about Saddam Hussein has served this purpose in ducking tricky Iraq questions.) When talking about Jack Abramoff, Bush focused on the pictures of the two together rather than the larger issue of what influence the lobbyist had with White House officials and what, if anything, he may have gotten in return for all of that campaign cash.

Advertisement

The president continued to define the photographs as a few of the thousand taken at "grip and grin" sessions. This wasn't a dodge: It was a deception. At least one of the snapshots with the chairman of the Kickapoo Indians was clearly something more. Bush had a scripted joke for this eventuality. "Having my picture taken with someone doesn't mean that, you know, I'm a friend with them or know them very well," he said setting up the gag. "I've had my picture taken with you at holiday parties."

Bush's questioners' fixation on the pictures helped him stay focused on just the pictures. (Have you seen how shiny the ornament is!Yes, and he just mentioned us!) The real questions are: What happened in the rooms where there were no photographs taken and where Abramoff met with White House staff? Whom did Abramoff meet with, what did he want, and what did the White House officials want from him?

Other White House officials have refused to answer those questions. And today, the president just ducked them. Asked about the staff meetings he said in his reply: "It's part of the job of the president to shake hands and—with people, and smile. And I do."

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 6:59 PM The Democrats’ War at Home Can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.