Bushie pans literacy

In Paris yesterday an American reporter was the target of the ire of the unelected one, because the NBC News White House correspondent deigned to ask the French President in French the same question he had just asked Bushie in English.

Perhaps Mr. Bush thought the French question was directed at him, or perhaps he thought Mr. Gregory was showing off. Whatever the case, Mr. Bush, his voice dripping with sarcasm, said "Very good, the guy memorizes four words, and he plays like he's intercontinental." (Mr. Gregory offered to go on in French, but that only made things worse.)

"I'm impressed — que bueno," said Mr. Bush, using the Spanish phrase for "how wonderful." He added: "Now I'm literate in two languages."

Mr. Gregory seemed a bit abashed, but others noted that, during the trip, Russian, German and French reporters posed questions to Mr. Bush in English, and in their native tongue to other leaders.

Yuck. My guess is that our leader is trying to tell us that, if we are Americans, we should be excoriated for being courteous, smart or educated.

W's snap at the correspondent was totally out of line, stupid, childish, and especially egregious in the context of the gentle handling he has enjoyed from his hosts in Europe for almost a week. The French President had been especially solicitous:

Perhaps to help cover for Mr. Bush, Mr. Chirac opened the press conference with a lengthy and rambling monologue about their talks and the state of U.S. - French relations. Mr. Chirac's remarks ate up about half the time allotted to the press conference, and he then shut down the press conference after only a handful of questions.

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Published on May 28, 2002 3:39 PM.

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