Bush 43 in Calgary – Part I

March 17th, 2009
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Why did 1500 Calgarians wait outside in the cold for an hour today instead of drinking green beer? It wasn’t to protest the Great Satan™, but to hear and, quite frequently, to praise him. And, thanks to an organized, generous friend, I was able to attend.

Although the weather was brisk, the monotony of the wait was broken by less than 100 die-hard Bush-haters (not over 200 as reported here), parked outside the Telus convention centre. The dominant demographic was doughy white college students, obviously feeling good about cutting class – with a few hoary nuts thrown in for good measure. A few placards showed imagination, like “Bush eats the food he cooks” (huh?). If Mr. B. can take credit for nothing else it would be that several young people now seem to be aware of the Hague and Geneva Conventions. One lone contrarian carried a sign that read “The world is safer because of George W. Bush”. Imagine.

With the saturation coverage of President Obama and his easy speaking style, one forgets that Mr. Bush can also give a smooth, convincing speech.

He began with a few anecdotes about life outside the bubble, including his first trip to the hardware store, where he was mistaken for George W. Bush. The election of Mr. Obama, he insisted, was good for America, and he said it was very moving to see African Americans overcome by the emotion of it. He also said that he owed Obama “his silence” – perhaps an allusion to Jimmy Carter’s conspicuous lack of same.

Then the fun began. On the recession he said “Wall Street got drunk and we got the hangover”. Describing himself as a “free-market guy” he claimed his actions last fall represented an attempt not to change the course of the ship of state, but to “prevent it from sinking”. Alluding to his failed attempt to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he stated that it would be the risk-takers (and by implication, not government) that would pull us out of recession. He warned of creeping protectionism and cited the value of Canada as a secure source of energy.

He conceded that the impact of climate change should be considered, but that future energy alternatives can only be developed in vibrant, healthy economies. Those, for the foreseeable future, would have to be fuelled by conventional energy sources – hydrocarbons and nuclear (I mean nucular).

Overall, he was relaxed, upbeat and energetic. His demeanor was genuine and unaffected – as I had expected and hoped. Seeing him in person I was again perplexed at the visceral hatred he has caused in many of his opponents. Of that I can only conclude that it says more about them than about him. His reaction was typical when he remarked that it was a good thing he had a lot of friends before he went to Washington – ‘cause he didn’t make many down there…

(Next time, 911, aid to Africa, the War on Terror and what can only be described as the “Sharansky Doctrine”. Stay tuned.)

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By John Weissenberger
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