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Monday, December 20, 2004
Whaddya Know: Bush Understands both the Press and Separation of Powers

By Steven Taylor @ 12:27 pm

However, the press either doesn’t understand SoP or, at least, pretends not to.

From today’s Press Conference

Now, the temptation is going to be, by well-meaning people such as yourself, John, and others here, as we run up to the issue to get me to negotiate with myself in public; to say, you know, what’s this mean, Mr. President, what’s that mean. I’m not going to do that. I don’t get to write the law. I will propose a solution at the appropriate time, but the law will be written in the halls of Congress. And I will negotiate with them, with the members of Congress, and they will want me to start playing my hand: Will you accept this? Will you not accept that? Why don’t you do this hard thing? Why don’t you do that?

While I fully understand the collective desire on the part of the press to have definitive answers on a long list of issues, there really is a gross oversimplification on this topic (which is common with such matters) in which the questioning seems to start from the proposition that it will be president himself (or, at least, the White House) that will be writing the legislation. Further, the questioning on this topic has a certain feel of an attempt to find a “gotcha” soundbite. This isn’t to say that many of the questions aren’t good ones. And, further, they are questions that the president has invited by raising this topic.

On a related note, Bush has been as good as he hs ever been in these post-election press conferences, If he been like this during the campaign (and especially the debates) I believe that his victory would have been more decisive. It is as if winning has erased any tentativeness that he was feeling. I will grant that to some degree it is not unexpected: being re-elected is a transformative experience.

  • Outside The Beltway linked with Bush Smarter than the Press
  • Say Anything linked with Reuters Media Bias
  • Conservative Revolution linked with Abraham Linkin' #2

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  1. I think it is funny that you bring up GWB in relation to the press grossly oversimplyfing issues. That is Bush’s wheelhouse. He has benefited from that simplification technique like no other presidential candidate.

    Comment by bill k — Monday, December 20, 2004 @ 12:54 pm

  2. Steven, to present this exchange as indicative of the reporter’s lack of understanding of the separation of powers is just wrong.

    Here is the question that Bush was responding to:

    “And I’m just wondering, as you’re promoting these private accounts, why aren’t you talking about some of the tough measures that may have to be taken to preserve the solvency of Social Security, such as increasing the retirement age, cutting benefits, or means testing for Social Security?”

    The reporter said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about Congress, the separation of powers, or judicial review. Bush has consistently been saying that he wants to “reform” Social Security, but has not given any substantive specifics as to his ideas on to how would operate nor how it would be paid for.

    And, while it is certainly true, Constitutionally, that the lawmaking process requires negotiation between the Senate, House and-ultimately- the president, it is also true that the President DOES have the ability to suggest-and even-write legislation.

    In fact, it’s done all the time. Take a look, for example, at the SAFETEA legislation that Congress failed to enact during the last session. OMB and Mineta drafted their own bill and submited it to the house and senate.

    Comment by Kappiy — Monday, December 20, 2004 @ 2:54 pm

  3. I understand where you are coming from, but on balance I would argue that all candidates do exactly that (i.e., oversimplify) even Mr. Nuance.

    Indeed, across the board, from candidates, to office holders to the press, oversimplification is an unfortunate fact of life in our political discourse.

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Monday, December 20, 2004 @ 3:45 pm

  4. Kappiy:

    Even if a member of congress introduces a piece of legislation (and only members of congress can do so) essentially written by the White House, the fact of the matter is that that bill will not withstand the will of congress unscathed-especially on major reform questions.

    My point is that the questioning on this issue, and many other over time to multiple presidents by the press, tends to ignore the role played by congress.

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Monday, December 20, 2004 @ 3:49 pm

  5. Israel will be attacked this coming year and the war in the mideast will kill millions of woman and children.

    Bush is as evil a guy that has walked on this earth and you can’t see that fact. he wants genocide here and all over the world for the ideals of one world government and he will do it all to well. its time to stand against this evil ideals of open borders and mass murder for so called freedom? you are the target and see it for what it is, Evil.

    Comment by Fred Dawes — Monday, December 20, 2004 @ 3:49 pm

  6. Note to Fred Dawes:

    To what genocide do you refer? Blacks, Jews, Christians, Israelis, etc?

    And where will it take place?

    I would suggest the only deserving receipiant of the above would be moonbats such as yourself.

    Comment by Marc — Monday, December 20, 2004 @ 4:56 pm

  7. I just love it that Dubya keeps the press corps back on their heels. A surprise press conference, the week before Christmas. What a stroke of genius. Most of them were probably mad they had to cancel their weekly Monday manicure appointments. No real politician starts the week out putting himself in the line of fire. Real politicians wait until late afternoon on Friday so that any collateral damage from gaffs will die down by Monday. That’s why I love our President. He doesn’t play by the Beltway “rules".

    Comment by Dougrc — Tuesday, December 21, 2004 @ 12:54 pm

  8. The problem is that no matter what specific SSI program is finally presented by the President and Congress to the American people for review, the reporters (and most average citizens) don’t have the knowledge or ability to understand it - and if they don’t understand it they just assume its a mistake and make ridiculous statements.

    Take for example the issue of rates of return. Many commentators have their panties in a knot over the risk of using pension money to purchase stocks. Well, there are many types of investments that could be used to improve the solvency of SSI.

    The SSI currently pays a rate of return of way less than one percent to recipients, while at the same time the US government is selling bonds to China and Japan, and giving them a 5% plus interest rate on agency debt. Why not pay the new SSI individual accounts that 5% plus because they will take just as much if not more risk than all those other current bond holders. In fact, why not put the fraudulent Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac out of business and give the rights to securitize home mortgages to the Social Security Admin. Then they could hedge interest rates, get a decent return on US government guaranteed debt and make the entire system solvent in a flash.

    As a secondary benefit, there is a good deal of sense letting voters and home owners put a substantial portion of their pension money into a mortgate pool and government debt because it promotes the concept of prudent management. Finally, there is still an opportunity to invest 15-20% of the individual accounts in shares.

    Like I said before, it�s complicated - but there are creative solutions out there. When the MSM gets in front of the President they should first do their homework and show their intelligence by asking about specifics instead of just heating the room.

    Comment by zong ren — Tuesday, December 21, 2004 @ 2:51 pm

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