Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Um, This Is a Friend, Right?

Okay, so here's the set-up. On Tuesday, while hosting close GWOT ally Australian Prime Minister John Howard, President Bush said the following:

Somebody said, you and John Howard appear to be so close, don't you have any differences? And I said, yes, he doesn't have any hair.
Look, ours is a world in which sometimes people tell you something and they don't mean it. In order to work together to make difficult decisions -- decisions of war and peace, decisions of security, decisions of trade -- you've got have somebody you talk to that tells you straight up what's on their mind. You know, politics sometimes produces people that will tell you one thing and don't mean it. It's really hard to be making rational decisions if somebody you're talking to just doesn't level with you.

And that's what I like about John Howard. He may not be the prettiest person on the block -- (laughter) -- but when he tells you something you can take it to the bank. He is a reliable partner. And we don't agree on 100 percent, of course. But the interesting thing, talking to John Howard, is that you can trust the man. And that's what is a necessary ingredient to be working together for
the common good.
I enjoy good teasing and gentle (and not so gentle) mockery as much as the next guy, but isn't there something a little unseemly about the Leader of the Free World acting like he's in a college locker room, ribbing the geeky towel boy after the game? I mean -- making fun of the guy's lack of hair? "He may not be the prettiest person on the block..."?

Yes, he followed that up with some seemingly heartfelt words about Howard's loyalty, but still... this is some pretty weird frat-boy diplomacy.

Or am I making too much of what should be seen as good-natured fun between friendly heads of state?

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