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Tuesday · June 24 2003

While flipping channels before bed, I stopped on CSPAN (I was trying to fall asleep). CSPAN was broadcasting a debate in the British Parliament entitled something like "Questions to the Prime Minister". I admit to knowing next to zero about the British political process. I was amazed at the harsh and jeering tone of this Q&A that seemed like a rough equivalent to the annual State of the Union address.

Tony Blair stood at the bottom of the House of Commons and took alternating questions from his Labour party and the opposing Conservative party. Whenever a Conservative representative would stand and ask a question, the whole Conservative side of the house would laugh at Blair. The questions weren't so much questions as mocking insults of things Blair had said in the past. Invariably, Tony Blair would smile, take a glance at his notes, and respond cogently without stammering or losing his cool.

I've seen CSPAN during rowdy Senate debates and this British session was fairly similar. The key ingredient missing in the Senate or House debates, of course, is the guy on top, the President. The President is always neatly out of the way during heated discussions in public. Never left to fend for himself in public, extemporaneously answering the difficult questions posed by partisan politicians, the President always speaks alone with a prepared speech, answering prepared questions from interviewers who have been prepared to let him off the hook.

Blair impressed me. I would love to see a broadcast of Bush (or Clinton before him) standing at the front of the House chamber and taking on all comers. Watching our nation's leader stand his ground and take on the hard questions would prove alot more than the spewing pre-packaged rhetoric from a pulpit.

What you had to say:
June 24 2003

In theory, that would be nice to see our President doing the same thing as Blair--open & naked, answering direct questions without a net.

However, unlike Blair, our President is quoted, taped, recorded & replayed more than any other leader in the world. And unlike Blair, if he fucks up, it can have big consequences.

I don't know if I would prefer to see Bush stammer away in front of the press, or continue to leave it the way it is: tough questions asked of the real people leading our nation--the cabinet and other people the President surrounds himself with.

Of course, that's getting diluted as well, but it's better than Bush causing WWIII because he mixed up Baghdad with Basra.

© 2003 Jason Keglovitz