"I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war...
"Now, here in Washington when I say, 'What do you mean by that?' They say, 'Well, why don't you raise their taxes? That'll cause there to be a sacrifice.' I strongly oppose that. If that's the kind of sacrifice people are talking about, I'm not for it because raising taxes will hurt this growing economy. And one thing we want during this war on terror is for people to feel like their life's moving on, that they're able to make a living and send their kids to college and put more money on the table...
"I don't quite view it [Iraq] as the broken egg; I view it as the cracked egg.... We still have a chance to move beyond the broken egg. And I thought long and hard about the decision...it's a big decision...if I didn't believe we could keep the egg from fully cracking, I wouldn't ask 21,000 kids--additional kids--to go into Iraq to reinforce those troops that are there."
--George W. Bush, in a January 16 interview on the PBS NewsHour.
Yesterday at the supermarket, while wondering at the price they're asking for red peppers, I was surprised to see President George Bush making like he was examining the zucchinis. He really wasn't about to buy the courgettes, but pretending to do so gave him cover for sidling up to the other shoppers.
It's easier to strike up a conversation with somebody picking out a head of romaine if you seem to be doing the same with the squash. The other shoppers weren't having any of it, however. The President would sidle up to a woman looking over the chicory, and she would move down to the celery. He came after her at the celery and she scooted over to the radishes.
After two or three turn-downs, Bush was standing next to me with that little half-smile he has, the one that has charmed and won over so many people. I didn't know if I was supposed to talk first or not. In my confusion I gave him my own little half-smile and went on checking to make sure the red pepper I had selected didn't have soft spots.
"Hi, I'm George Bush, the President," he said, picking up a yellow pepper.
"I bet you are," I replied.
"No, I am The Decider, that's me, the genuine article."
"Yes, sir," I answered, and then ventured to ask if they were short on groceries at the White House.
"No, actually I'm out here talking to the folks."
"Well, sir," I said, "I am a folk."
"Yes," the President agreed, "but are the folks listening?"
"Some days it's hard to get away from you, sir. Seems like you're on every channel. You have to be a fast man with the remote to escape from you, unless, of course, a person subscribes to a premium channel." I was talking too much, but I was too embarrassed to stop, so I went on, "I never see you on HBO or Showtime."
He nodded yes and reached over into the yellow pepper bin. "Do you think people are hiding from me in the premium channels?"
He had his head tilted a little to the side the way he does. Still with the little smile. He seemed like an OK guy but maybe a little discouraged. I had an urge to say something to cheer him up. "The people, I mean the folks, see that you are trying. How many press conferences do you have every day, sir? You are definitely out there on the airwaves--surging, you might say."
"But am I getting through?" Bush asked, but as a folk I didn't want to say yea or nay. Instead, I asked him back if he had considered The Don Imus Show or Jay Leno. He said that Tony Snow, his press agent, was trying to get him booked but it was harder to get on those programs because his Q score is not what it used to be.
"They tell me," the President confided, "that I overexposed myself. It's the price I have had to pay for freedom."
We wandered over to the dairy section, where the Commander in Chief picked up a carton of eggs (extra large). He opened it up and somehow dropped it. All of the eggs cracked.
"You could just put back the carton and sneak off, Mr. President. They won't see it until you're gone."
"No," he said, picking up the carton, which was starting to look a little messy. "You run over yonder and fetch me a little tube of Krazy Glue."
I did and he did. But it didn't seem to work.