Tuesday, March 22, 2005

On Having a Conversation with the President

I've noticed that the White House is pretty good about providing transcripts of the speeches President Bush makes on a daily basis. Most of the speeches are, boiler plate--long on introductions and graciousness, short on *substance*--but, I bet that most of the government policy being talked about is much the same. So, it must be fitting. Today, I noticed one of his speeches, was labeled a "conversation." That got me thinking about whether or not one can have a conversation with the President of the United States, you know, the Leader of the Free World.

What is a conversation? It seems to me that conversation, as a term, denotes an exchange between people about some topic. Neither the exhange, nor the topic probably needs to be all that serious, you just got to have some people talking. In as much as I generally look at conversations as being something like that, I generally assume that the people talking are pretty much equals. After all, you don't ever really have a conversation with your boss; she normally calls you in and you listen politely while quickly deciding whether or not your joke is appropriate for the occasion. If this is generally how conversations are concieved and born, than how much harder would it be for the president to have one with any one else? It's hard to have an equal go at the conversation when you're talking to someone whom you have to refer to as "Mr. President." Bush seems to acknowledge as much here:
A couple other points I want to make. Laura told me -- by the way, she's doing fabulous. I'm a lucky man to have married Laura Bush. (Applause.) She just said, make sure you remember there's others on the stage who need to talk, too. (Laughter.) In other words, keep it short. But I'm just getting wound up. I've got a couple other things I want to share with you.
See. How can you have a conversation with someone who wields all that power? This isn't a conversation, it's a speech. And why wouldn't we want the president to do the latter more than the former?

Maybe we ought to get it in our heads that the president is just not one of us and stop expecting him or her to where flannel and have little conversations with us.


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