Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fred Jumps, Debate Slumps, Bush Pumps

Former senator Fred Thompson continues to make his presence known by his absence. In last night's debate on FOX between eight Republican presidential hopefuls in New Hampshire, Thompson was the Southern conservative Reaganish elephant hulking behind the curtain...dealt with by lame jokes such as Sen. John McCain's (AZ) "Maybe it's past his bedtime."

Meanwhile, "Fred Thompson Makes a Late-Night Late Entry" (WaPo) on Jay Leno's show laconically announcing he was joining the presidential wanna-be fray, and dismissing the debate with a backhand, "I'll do my share, but I don't think it's a very enlightening forum, to tell you the truth."

And, truth be told, it wasn't a very enlightening forum. A not surprising chorus of "Top Republicans back Bush Iraq Strategy in Debate" was the tenor of the evening. (WaPo)

Without the presence of Rep. Ron Paul (TX), it would have been a yawner although it was designed to stir things up....questions on immigration (at last) that elicited not very artful dodging from New York's "safe-haven city" former mayor Rudy Giuliani, and on the flip-flopping of disgraced Sen. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig (R-ID).

The debate was mostly a joust to the bottom... and Sam Brownback easily won that slot. While the questions on Iraq allowed McCain some expected chest-beating, it was Paul who showed the courage of his convictions by reminding his hostile cohorts that the decision to go to war was made by a handful of neoconservatives who hijacked U.S. foreign policy.

And, while the political climate was heating up in the U.S..... a half a world away, White House diplomacy was also getting a bit steamy, or unseemly. "In Australia, Rice stands in for first lady," (AP) the headline teases.

While Laura Bush stayed in D.C. with what she said was a pinched nerve, in Sydney "office wife" Condi Rice and The Decider were yucking it up. To quote Bush at a dinner in his honor: " 'She can be my date,' the president said, reaching out his left hand to touch Rice's arm as they stood before the cameras at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister John Howard and his wife."

The reason for the date....err.... trip to Australia was the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum attended by leaders from China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and other major Pacific Rim countries. So, with such a gathering in which to make his gravitas felt as the leader of the free world, what did The Decider do?

After lunch, Bush headed back to his hotel to change into biking gear and then his motorcade raced north to a track at the Honda training facility. After an hour Bush emerged and his motorcade returned to Sydney.

It has been reported that much of the advance work for Bush's trips involve the Secret Service ferreting out the best place for Kid George to ride his bike. Bush has become a joke and an embarrassment to us all.... the country's painful pinched nerve.

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