You Talkin’ to Me?

The President traveled to the Tar Heel State on Monday, accompanied by the usual press entourage. Polibloggers, as far as Campaign Desk knows, were not among them. This did not stop some in the ‘sphere from taking a stab at interpreting bits of yesterday’s exchange between the president and the press.

At the start of the Q&A — before turning to “Stretch” (NBC’s David Gregory) — Bush eagerly sought out “the AP person” (Peter Yost, perhaps?) So begins the exchange on which several bloggers focus:

The President: Let me ask you a couple questions. Who is the AP person?

Q: I am.

The President: You are?

Q: Sir, in regard to—

The President: Who are you talking to?

Q: Mr. President, in regard to …

Why was Bush so eager to locate the “AP person”? Is “sir” somehow disrespectful? These questions need answers, and the blogosphere is happy to provide them. Josh Marshall is sincerely flummoxed: “I’m genuinely unsure what to make of that.” Suburban Guerrilla is not so much mystified as she is miffed. “The Presidential Sock Puppet spoke to the press today,” writes Guerrilla in a post titled “It Was A Bad Day to Stop Sniffing Glue.” Even less diplomatic is Mathew Gross, who turns his ire on both Bush and the traveling scribes. “If only there were an honest journalist left in America,” Gross grumbles before rewriting the exchange as follows:

The President: Who are you talking to?

Reporter: You, nincompoop.

Mickey Kaus is cross with the press and the press alone — specifically the New York Times’ and Washington Post’s reporting on the president’s answer to a question about whether the June 30 deadline for transfer of power in Iraq might be delayed. Bush replied, in part, “No, the intention is to make sure the deadline remains the same. I believe we can transfer authority by June 30. We’re working toward that day. … But no, the date remains firm.” Kaus trashes the Times and the Post for “misread[ing] the plainly vague meaning of Bush’s words,” and wonders if the papers are “setting Bush up for a charge of flip-flopping when he ultimately puts off the Iraq handover.” The Post’s Dana Milbank, Kaus writes, is “smart enough to know a weaselly fudge when he hears it.”

Instapundit, on the other hand, today has praise for the press — or, rather, just AP person Jennifer Peter’s recent piece on the Democrats’ “logistical and political” pre-convention challenges, sensationally headlined “Boston’s Democratic Convention A Quagmire.” The Convention prep “looks like a quagmire” to Instapundit as well, who wonders, “What will Ted Kennedy say about this?”

In other news, TalkLeft notes that Ralph Nader “failed to garner enough signatures” to make the ballot in Oregon. “Are his days numbered? Will he withdraw after meeting with Kerry?” TalkLeft (wishfully) muses aloud, linking to AP person Braid Cain’s report. (Choice nugget: “‘The ball game, it had to be the ball game,’ Nader muttered as he climbed a stairway leading to the stage.”)

For the record, Ralph, we thought of it first.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.