Okay, so if Tom Cruise and I have one thing in common, it's the fact that we both really hate the glib. (If we have three things in common, the other two are our eyebrow-sweeping bangs and the fact that we both like men.) I make it a personal priority to take myself as unseriously as possible -- there is nothing about me as a person that warrants ulcer-inducing image maintenance -- but I take my work very seriously indeed, because I recognize that a lot of other people depend on me doing my job so that they can do theirs. I show respect for others by taking seriously those things that are important to them.
That's why shit like this pisses me off:
"Gu-huck! Gu-huck! I don't know what's goin' on over there in Iraq. One of the perks of the job, I get to hire other people to know stuff for me. Stuff like what laws regulate arguably undertrained and underdisciplined military contractors we've hired to go on over an' maintain the peace using questionable methods. I don't gotta do my own laundry, either; my job is swell."
Now, I don't expect Bush to be able to name the precise statute of federal or international law that tells us precisely how Blackwater is to be supervised and regulated; that really is minutia that the commander-in-chief has every right to delegate out. But with Blackwater being such a controversial presence in the region, he needs to have some vague idea of who is responsible for keeping them in line, and he needs to respect that that is a very important question. That student didn't use her one opportunity to address the president of the United States to ask that question because the one about his favorite color was already taken; she did it because that was a significant concern to her, and out of respect for her, he should have said, at the very least, "That's a good question, and I don't know the answer to it. But I'm going to consult with my secretary of defense and find an answer for you, because it's important that you and all of the American people understand the methods we're using." Because it's important, and his not knowing is not funny.
Bush is a big fan of laughing at his own ignorance.
"Gu-huck! I don't know nothin' about the economy! I got people to know stuff about that, too. I just keep your taxes low and let some economyologist clean up the mess."
This is the man who told the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia that we are "kicking ass" in Iraq. The man who says that, when he was running for the highest office in the country, he "never really thought about the decision to put men and women in harm's way. I never thought that that would happen." The man who has so much respect for his Secretary of State that he's said, "She's the Ph.D. and I'm the C student, and just look at who's the president and who's the adviser."
"Gu-huck! Maybe you got a Ph.D. and all that, Condi, but you still ain't the president! Ain't it just a hoot that we got a moron in charge of our whole entire country?"
I know I'm not the first to observe that, while Bush does a middling-to-respectable job at scripted events that don't include the word "nuclear," he's absolute crap when let off the leash. Well, here's a tidbit for our president that might improve his skills at extemporaneous speaking: You are the only person amused by your own idiocy. You find it hilarious, and the rest of us are appalled. The rest of us are standing slack-jawed at the flippant yokel who don't know nothin' bout no military contractors/economy/war casualties and don't particularly care none.
Your job isn't just important, Mr. President, it's the most important. You are the leader of the most powerful country in the world and the commander-in-chief of a military at war. Even if you don't particularly care about any of that, we do, and out of respect for us, you need to at least pretend it bothers you that you suck noisily at every aspect of your job. Appear to take it as seriously as we do. Pretend. If you have to stand in front of a mirror for hours upon hours until you've mastered the art of simulated gravitas, then do it, because it's hard enough just knowing you're ignorant and apathetic without having to see reminders of it daily on CNN.