Monday, April 14, 2003

The Bushies did not curse, either. Early in my White House stint, somebody asked me at a meeting whether I was sure of something. I said I was. He pressed me: "Are you sure?” Irritated, I replied emphatically: “Yes, I am damn sure.” The temperature in the room suddenly seemed to drop about a dozen degrees. There was a prolonged silence as I tried to figure out my mistake. I got it. “Er -- I mean, yes indeed, I am quite sure.”

--from The Right Man, David Frum's White House memoir

The next person to buttonhole me was the Centcom uber-civilian, a thirty-ish Republican operative. He was more full-metal-jacket in his approach (although he was a civilian he was, inexplicably, in uniform - making him, I suppose a sort of para-military figure): "I have a brother who is in a Hummer at the front, so don't talk to me about too much fucking air-conditioning." And: "A lot of people don't like you." And then: "Don't fuck with things you don't understand." And too: "This is fucking war, asshole." And finally: "No more questions for you."

I had been warned.

--from "I Was Only Asking," Michael Wolff's column about what happened after he had the nerve to ask a slightly impolite question at a CentCom press briefing in Doha

No surprise, really. In high school, the jocks sometimes try to intimidate by means of trash talk, and other times by posing as enforcers of moral rectitude. Either way, they expect everyone else to toe the line.

No comments: