The Self Made Pundit

I'm just the guy that can't stand cant. ___________

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Thursday, April 29, 2004

As President Bush and Vice President Cheney make their unusual joint appearance before the commission investigating the September 11, 2001, attacks today, the commission’s efforts to get at the truth will be complicated by the peculiar rules that Bush has placed on the interview.

These rules have more to do with saving Bush from embarrassment than anything else.

In one of the most pathetic implicit admissions of incompetence ever made by a president, Bush has refused to be interviewed separately, as requested by commission. The restrictions do not end there. Today’s Washington Post notes some of the restrictions demanded by the White House:

The president and vice president agreed to meet privately with the 10-member panel on the condition that they appear together.


The White House will not record or transcribe the interviews .... The Sept. 11 panel is prohibited from recording the interview but will be allowed to have one staffer taking notes.

As The New York Times notes in an editorial today, the rules that Bush is imposing on the commission’s interview of him range from the questionable to the ridiculous:

It would have been a pleasure to be able to congratulate President Bush on his openness in agreeing to sit down today with the independent commission on the 9/11 attacks and answer questions. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush conditioned his cooperation on stipulations that range from the questionable to the ridiculous.

The strangest of the president's conditions is that he will testify only in concert with Vice President Dick Cheney. The White House has given no sensible reason for why Mr. Bush is unwilling to appear alone. (When asked at his recent press conference, the president gave one of his patented nonresponses: "Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9/11 commission is looking forward to asking us, and I'm looking forward to answering them.")

While Bush’s demand to have Cheney at his side is certainly odd, it is debatable whether that is the strangest rule that Bush (Or is it Cheney?) has laid down for the interview. Through contacts at the White House, the Self Made Pundit has obtained the complete list of rules for the Bush and Cheney interview. It appears the Times was underestimating just how peculiar these rules are.

Here is the complete list of The White House's Rules for the September 11 Commission’s Interview of Bush and Cheney:

1. Bush will appear only in the presence of Cheney.

2. If Cheney leaves the room to go to the bathroom, Bush may also leave the room or hide under the table, at his option, until Cheney returns.

3. Bush will not be put under oath to tell the truth.

4. Bush will not be expected to tell the truth.

5. The interview will be private, in a secure White House room behind closed doors.

6. The Commission members may not turn on the light in the room.

7. The Commission members may not turn down the sound on Bush’s stereo, which will have the volume turned to 11.

8. The interview will not be tape-recorded or transcribed.

9. Only one staff member may take notes.

10. The staff member taking notes may not use any mechanical devices, pens or sharpened pencils.

11. While the staff member taking notes may use an unsharpened pencil, he may not use paper.

12. Only commission members – and not the staff – may ask Bush and Cheney questions.

13. Commission members may not ask Bush any questions while Cheney is taking a drink of water.

14. Commission members may not ask Bush any questions that would require him to pronounce the words “strategy,” “nuclear,” “subliminal” or any other word of more than two syllables.

15. Commission members may not ask Bush any hypothetical questions, such as whether his joint appearance with Cheney would be barred under his proposed Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriages.

16. Commission members may not ask Bush any trick questions such as what he knew or did.

17. Commission members may ask Bush what he felt or what was in his heart.

18. Commission members may not ask Bush any personal or embarrassing questions, such as why in August 2001 he took the longest presidential vacation in more than 30 years after receiving numerous warnings of an impending terrorist attack, including a Presidential Daily Briefing memo entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US” on August 6, 2001.

19. Commission members are requested to act respectfully and remember they are interviewing the president of the United States.

20. Commission members are requested to try not to cry as they look at Bush and remember they are interviewing the president of the United States.