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Bush,  Cheney  open  mouths  before  brains  engage

American Politics Journal

David J. Gonzo

Monday, Sept. 4, 2000 -- NEW YORK (AmpolNS)

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney launched the first day of the "official" Presidential campaign season with a gaffe of elephantine proportions.

According to a Reuters report, during a campaign appearance in the affluent, family-friendly Chicago suburb of Naperville, Bush leaned over to his running mate, looked at a member of the press corps, and whispered,

"There's Adam Clymer -- major league asshole from the New York Times."

Cheney gleefully replued, "Oh yeah -- he is -- big time."

Unfortunately for both candidates, their comments were picked up by a live microphone.

In an added bit of irony, Bush told the assembled crowd that it is "time to get some plain-spoken folks" into the Beltway.

Well, if this is plain speaking, then the message is clear -- Bush not only lacks any semblance of grammatical restraint, but just plain common sense, especially in an era when every move of a candidate is potential camera and microphone fodder.

Within minutes of the incident, Bush press flack Karen Hughes tried to spin the gaffe by flatly describing it as "a whispered aside to his running mate.... It was not intended as a public comment."

Well, then Bush should have saved it for a private moment with Cheney, don't you agree?

Mind you, Karen, this exchange came from men who vowed to bring a new level of civility to political discourse and to restore "honor and dignity" to the White House. In fact, one of the tenets of that GOP spin point is that "honor and dignity" begin in private, and candidates who exchange in profane frat-boy put-downs that you characterize as a private "aside" show neither honor nor decency
-- let alone the sense that God gave the common amoeba.

This latest incident of crass ineptitude follows reports that friction between the press corps and the Bush campaign team has been building since the convention,

especially over Bush's increasing lack of availability to members of the press, and what one journaist described to one of our editors as the "hostile and arrogant attitude" of senior members of the Bush campaign team.

This friction may well prompt many members of the press corps to play up the story -- and to contrast the campaign sloganeering of Bush and Cheney with their conduct.

After all, as George W. Bush himself said, "Words mean things."