10 October 2004

Washington Post: Bush's non-answer

Just after the second Bush Kerry debate, I wrote that Bush's weakness was his inability to name a single major error he'd made. The Washington Post now says this may be a major issue for undecided voters:


When this campaign is over, Linda Grabel may become famous.

Grabel was the citizen-questioner at Friday's debate who asked President Bush an interesting question that may well set the tone for the rest of this campaign.

Noting that the president had made "thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives," Grabel sensibly wanted this piece of information: "Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it."

The president's answer was notable in two ways. First, he spent many words not answering at all. He spoke vaguely about how historians might second-guess some of his decisions and that he'd take responsibility for them. He also asserted: "I'm human."

Second, when Bush finally did admit something, he said this: "I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV."

There, in brief, are the core reasons why polls suggest that undecided and independent voters are having a problem with this president. His tactic of never admitting mistakes is backfiring in light of events. And when asked to take responsibility, his first instinct was to direct attention to others by speaking of his supposedly mistaken appointments.

....Bush's refusal to admit mistakes matters. It suggests his belief that voters, even at election time, have no right to a clear and candid explanation of what went wrong, and why.

Excerpt from ... and Bush's telling non-answer (Washington Post)

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