Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Monday, September 11, 2006
Remember The Absence of Leadership?

President Bush speaking and AF1 leaving Barksdale AFB on September 11, 2001

Almost 5 hours would elapse after the initial 8:45AM crash of American Airlines Flight 11 into the south tower of the World Trade Center before the President of the United States addressed a shaken nation.
To those glued to televised news coverage the wait for a soothing national voice seemed endless.
Some people took initial comfort from the on-scene presence of New York City's street-wise and media-savvy mayor.
Finally, a shaky recording of a flustered President speaking from, of all places, Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana was broadcast shortly before 1:30PM EDT.
This CNN chronology says the President spoke at 1:04PM EDT.
Except for it being afternoon, I do not recall the precise time I watched Mr. Bush address* the nation on September 11, 2001.
I do remember that it was mid afternoon and that his very short address was not live.
I remember not being comforted by the shaky quality of the videotape or by the composure of the President.
His address that evening was not exactly delivered from any sort of comfort zone but on the bright positive news side, the Oval Office camera was steadier.
On the even brighter side, for Mr. Bush, his conduct that day is usually downplayed or ignored in favor of his teary and more concerned September 12, 2001 morning Oval Office press availability.

*Listening to this audio-only recording of Mr. Bush at Barksdale, I’m again struck by what at first glance seems to be the President’s now famous mispronunciations and aphasic pauses.
Giving a fresh listen this morning, I disturbingly interpreted the President’s hesitancy as more reflective of what a newsreader might call a “cold read”, a recitation without the benefit of an initial reading.
Also, at :05 and :07 seconds into the recording one can hear a male voice say “Eric!” along with what I think might be the sound of fingers snapping.
I’m guessing that this is the voice (and fingers) of former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card attempting to cue official White House Photographer Eric Draper to pre-selected vantage points of the President.

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