Fleischer Leaves 'em Laughing

I came across these links to a video and transcript of Ari Fleischer’s press conference from this Tuesday. In response to questions about Bush’s efforts to secure Mexico’s Security Council vote on the latest resolution by offering amnesty or guest worker status to illegal immigrants, he said:

At which point the press corps broke out in laughter and Fleischer beat a hasty retreat.

Serves the smug little bastard right.

(Viewing tip: Once the video’s buffered, fast forward to minute 28 and view from there.)

No one’s responded to this? Odd. It’s been the No. 1 download on CSPAN.org for days now, which is pretty rare for a daily White House press briefing.

It’s clear the reporters are laughing at him and his rather audacious claim, but even I didn’t quite see the cause for such laughter. Then again, if I had to listen to ANY White House’s spin machine every day, I might lose it at some point, too. Well, unless it was Mike McCurry as press secretary. I’d laugh during his briefings, too, but only because the guy was freakin’ hilarious under intense pressure. A dry sense of humor can go a long way in a job like that.

Well, what is Fleischer supposed to say? “You’re right. I’m sure that like any popularly elected president of a country, I’m sure Vicente Fox has a rough idea of the price he would need to sell his convictions. President Bush intends to find that price and pointedly buy his vote, regardless of his personal views or the generally held opinions of his electorate.”

I realize that there are lots of current examples of this, like maybe Hungary, Turkey, etc., but what is Fleischer supposed to say?

How about “The President and his staff have been extensively considering a number of what we believe to be feasible plans.”? It doesn’t say anything at all, and it answers the question:)

He probably could have phrased it differently. Just say something like, “As I’ve told you before, there is no quid pro quo. The president would never consider trying to buy the support of other leaders.” I think that may have spared him the derision of the reporters.

I don’t know - saying “the president would never consider doing this”, when it’s fairly obvious he is, would probably meet with similar derision.

I think that’s why the press laughed at him in the first place; he said “[buying votes] is not an acceptable proposition” when the press had tangible evidence that it was a proposition under which the Bush administration was operating.

Well, ok. I guess Fleischer is caught between the facade and the reality of politics. It’s kind of insulting to imply that Bush intends to buy Fox’s support, but if Fox was leaning that way anyway, I’m sure it’s occured to him to ask for something to insure his vote.

Fleischer probably should have dodged the question, yes. Maybe his own personal attitude got in the way for the moment.

Right, Bush is walking in with clean hands, intent only on matters of peace and justice, while Fox sits in a shadowy office, purring “What’s in it for me?” in an oily voice. Suuuuure.

I think Fleischer would have emerged unscathed if he had said, “I don’t believe that Mr. Fox’s ethics are for sale.”

(Bullsh*t, of course–EVERYONE’S are–but I’ll bet no one would have laughed.)