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Posted in Politics + Diplomacy by expresscheckout on 3 August, 2006

Bush, Rice and Blair at the park 

In a time when conflict is intensifying and war is being waged, George W. Bush’s ‘Yo, Blair’ microphone gaff at the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg made headlines worldwide. Writer Maureen Dowd provides an equally fruitful, rather more forthcoming dialogue between the two neighbourly leaders:  

Fetch, Heel, Stall
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times
July 29, 2006

Oops, they did it again. That pesky microphone problem that plagued George W. Bush and Tony Blair in St. Petersburg struck again at their White House news conference yesterday. The president told technicians to make sure his real thoughts would not be overheard this time, but somehow someone forgot to turn off the feed to my office. As a public service, I’d like to reprint the candid under-their-breath mutterings they exchanged in between their public utterances.

THE PRESIDENT: “The prime minister and I have committed our governments to a plan to make every effort to achieve a lasting peace out of this crisis.”

“Actually, we talked about our plan to keep using fancy phrases like ‘lasting peace’ and ‘sustainable cease-fire,’ so we don’t actually have to cease the fire. Condi had a great one! Didya hear it, Tony? She said, ‘The fields of the Middle East are littered with broken cease-fires.’ Man, can she talk, and she plays piano, too!”

THE PRIME MINISTER: “The question is now how to get it stopped and get it stopped with the urgency that the situation demands. … I welcome very much the fact that Secretary Rice will go back to the region tomorrow. She will have with her the package of proposals in order to get agreement both from the government of Israel and the government of Lebanon on what is necessary to happen in order for this crisis to stop.”

“I thought it was quite clever, George, to stall by sending Condi to Kuala Lumpur for that imminently skippable meeting of marginal Asian powers. And her decision to tickle the ivories while Beirut burns was inspired. The Asians love a good Brahms sonata. And she called it a ‘prayer for peace’! Just brilliant. But her idea of a series of Rachmaninoff concerts at every layover on the way to the Middle East could look too conspicuously like dawdling.”

THE PRESIDENT: “Hezbollah’s not a state. They’re a, you know, supposed political party that happens to be armed. Now what kind of state is it that’s got a political party that has got a militia?”

“Uh-oh! I mean, besides all those Shiite leaders we set up in Iraq who have THEIR own militias. Oh, man, this is complicated. What about those Republican Minutemen patrolling the Mexican border? Or Vice on a hunting trip?”

THE PRIME MINISTER: “Of course the U.N. resolution, the passing of it, the agreeing of it, can be the occasion for the end of hostilities if it’s acted upon, and agreed upon. And that requires not just the government of Israel and the government of Lebanon, obviously, to abide by it, but also for the whole of the international community to exert the necessary pressure so that there is the cessation of hostilities on both sides.”

“And the whole of the cosmos! We can call for an intergalactic study group to act upon and agree upon and adjudicate – George, I can keep the verbs, adjectives and conditional phrases going until these reporters keel over.”

THE PRESIDENT: “My message is, give up your nuclear weapon and your nuclear weapon ambitions. That’s my message to Syria – I mean, to Iran. And my message to Syria is, you know, become an active participant in the neighborhood for peace.”

“It’s so hard to keep all these countries straight! And which ones are in the Axis? I hate it when Condi leaves town. Tony Baloney, just blink twice when I mention a bad country and once when I mention one we like and sell arms to. And while you’re at it, heel, poodle! Har-har. Play dead! You crack me up.”

THE PRIME MINISTER: “I’ve spoken to President Chirac, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, the president of the European Union, the prime minister of Finland and many, many others.”

“See? I’m no poodle. I’m here to keep the names of our allies straight. And I can stand up straight. Bush, old boy, that’s not posture. That’s Paleolithic Man.”

THE PRESIDENT: “And so what you’re seeing is, you know, a clash of governing styles. For example, you know, you know, the, the, the notion of democracy beginning to emerge – emerge – scares the ideologues, the totalitarians, and those who want to impose their vision. It just frightens them, and so they respond. They’ve always been violent. … There’s this kind of almost, you know, kind of weird kind of elitism that says: well, maybe – maybe – certain people in certain parts of the world shouldn’t be free.”

“Tony, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

Maureen Dowd is the author of Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk and columnist for The New York Times.

Original transcript of the Bush-Blair G8 snacktime chat on serious world affairs

Text: Bush, Blair News Conference in Washington on July 28, 2006

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