Donna Marsh O'Connor: Presidential Press Conference in Three Notes

By Donna Marsh O’Connor
Mother of Vanessa Lang Langer, WTC Tower II, 93rd floor
October 11, 2006

If the American people have, indeed, free and fair elections the Republicans and George W. Bush’s free pass will be voted out this November. These are the three key notes George W. Bush hit today, October 11th, 2006 in the mode of the authoritative father, the ultimate use of paternal rhetoric:

The economy is strong, stupid.

I went to war with Iraq and will the stay the course there because it was the right thing to do.

There is no red line as it pertains to North Korean threats against us because Japan and China will be with us. Hear this loud, America: There is no red line that Bush will name before the election. There is no plan for our defense.

It might seem that the American press corps is getting smarter, more efficient, posing more difficult questions about our actual safety as we face a blatant warning from North Korea. It might seem so because they actually asked Bush about the dissonance in his rhetoric and actions regarding North Korea and, too, about Iraq, but when, after a horrible explanation of the apparent contradictions in Bush/Cheney policy (we mistakenly attacked Iraq without enough backing from the rest of the world, without pursuing diplomacy) Bush has learned from these mistakes. He has learned that when actual threats are made against our country, that is the time to erase a red line, to say “Japan and China will help us. It didn’t work in Iraq.”

I know you heard him, America, when he said he would protect us from a real threat by pursuing diplomacy—diplomacy? Diplomacy requires rhetorical skill so that the very real clashes in cultural perspectives are neutralized. Diplomacy requires sensitivity to the very real consequences of failure. Diplomacy requires a generosity of spirit and a willingness to compromise. America, take it from someone who knows: George W. Bush does not have, and does not desire to have these skills personally. Note the way he continues to characterize his real enemy—the Democratic Party—in a singular phrase—cut and run. And no one in his administration is free to pursue or demonstrate those skills either. Note the differences in Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell.

Right now we are fighting a war in a country that never threatened us, never had weapons of mass destruction and never, do you hear me?, never had a connection to the terrorists who murdered my daughter on September 11th, 2001. And George W. Bush failed to say today, honestly, that he cannot defend us against genuine weapons (or as he calls it “kinetic energy”) because our children are fighting and dying in Iraq and we Americans are tapped out. He refuses to hear that 650,000 Iraqi people have died and he continues to say (but fails to express or demonstrate) that he has one iota of compassion for the Iraqi civilians (those courageous people!!???!!) who died, nor our dead soldiers. The evidence of his lack of compassion is the refusal to name or number accurately their lives and deaths.

Hear this as a warning: The only thing that made this press conference presidential was the graphic under his image. He cannot sustain the lies anymore. To avoid deeply attending to the seriousness of the subtext of the reporter’s questions, he teased them about their clothes, poked fun at their journalistic affiliations, and neutered their ability to be seriously probing journalists. Why didn’t one of them say: stop it? It’s not a time for humor.

Go to the grocery and the gas pumps on the same day (yes, I know about the falling price of gas and, too, about the quick rise that will happen on November 8th if we do not have free and fair elections) and if you are in the middle class you know that every item you touch is more costly, as is the case with college tuition and the interest we pay for our children’s futures. The economy is not okay, stupid, because if there is no liquid middle class George and company have access to more boots on the ground.

We went to war, we—the middle class, that is went to war--not to eradicate terrorism, but to grant Bush/Cheney access to all power in the middle east and the globe. Iraq was the beginning. Iran, Syria are certainly next. Certainly. We have air craft carriers on their way now, despite the fact that once again we are going in the wrong direction.

Yesterday, blatantly, audibly, America was threatened. America was threatened by North Korea and they have nuclear weapons. And they have said they are willing to point them at us. Us, for God’s sake. And even if they don’t, they dug a whole in our earth and set off a nuclear bomb or two. In our earth. Who in this country wants this administration to be at the helm if that threat is realized with kinetics on our side of the globe?

It’s time for Bush and his enabling party to be told no. No. No more wars on the middle class, denying what he has taken from us. Our children. Our ethics. Our American liberties.

If Iraq is so important to him, let him send Jenna. Then we’ll see if Laura and Barney are still behind him. And maybe that smirk will disappear.