"President Bush yesterday sought to rally U.S. troops behind his Iraq strategy -- and he and his aides left little to chance.
"Before the president spoke via a video link, his event planners handpicked 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry and one Iraqi soldier, told them what topics the president would ask about and watched them briefly rehearse their presentations before going live."
So starts a Washinton Post article about the live feed interview President Bush gave yesterday that has spurred much debate in the blogs.
The video portion (on this yahoo! link) that I saw had Allison Barber coaching the troops, telling the soldiers how to answer and what questions would be asked. I've not heard the interview itself, but I did read the transcript here (there is also a link to the video but I don't have the plugin and I'm not going to download the plugin right now). What I read looks like it's scripted, as if the military officers were told what to say, though it also sounds very military-like, which tends to look scripted.
Perhaps more damaging than the video of the prepping itself is the damage control offered by White House Spokesman Scott McClellan, which you can read along with other opinions at the Moderate Voice link here.
Why would the President, at a time when his poll numbers are lower than a snake's rump in a wagon rut, be so sloppy with this PR moment to allow such prepping to go on a live feed? When your mantra during all your country has gone through (war, recession, economic stagnation, outsourcing, Intelligence leaks, natural disaster debacles, Supreme Court selections, Intelligent Design debate, etc.) is "trust me," then what does this do to those who would trust him? How can you trust someone who spoon feeds the information to suit his agenda? When credibility is an issue, then you need to take steps to ensure that credibility is restored, and this does the opposite.
I've been rather critical of the President, yet I continue to support him, because he's our President. I don't agree with many of his policies, nor am I required to - that's part of being free. That being said, it becomes harder and harder to support an administration that seems to be striking out every time it steps up to the plate. I wasn't around at the time, but I wonder if this is similar to what Lyndon Johnson experienced when he decided not to seek re-election in 1968...