The Bush team has joined the chat generation, beginning an ongoing series of email Q&A’s between the public and members of the administration last night with Andrew H. Card Jr., President Bush’s chief of staff. However, as the Washington Post cautions:
- Those who join the chat should not expect a gossipy session about the president’s daughters, or candid remarks from Card about the dominance of Bush senior adviser Karl Rove. As one press corps wag noted yesterday morning when the discussions were announced, it will allow the White House to give the same message to a 12-year-old in the Midwest that it has long given the press corps: “When we have something to announce, we’ll announce it.”
Here is a bit of the Card transcript:
- Secretary Card:
Good evening, I’m Andy Card — Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush. I welcome you to the inaugural “Ask the White House” online discussion. I am pleased to be here tonight to answer your questions. The Internet is an important communications medium. We have witnessed, especially during Operation Iraqi Freedom, a substantial increase in the amount of traffic to Internet sites as more and more people — worldwide — are relying on the internet for information.
We see the “Ask the White House” series as another way for our citizens to interact with the White House. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and answering your questions during tonight’s online discussion.
With that, I’m happy to begin . . .
I like the use of informal “Andy”: maybe he’ll tell us his favorite color or American Idol contestant.
- Russ, from Cookeville TN writes:
Please step us through how you learned about the second plane hitting the World Trade Center on 911, your informing the President of this, and the seconds and minutes immediately following. Thanks.
I was with the President in Sarasota, FL on 9/11. Just as The President was entering a room with elementary students, we were informed about a single plane hitting one of the World Trade Center Towers. The President and I thought it was a horrible accident— a pilot heart attack or something. Once the President was in the room with the students, I received a call from the Situation Room that another plane had hit the second tower. I gathered my thoughts, deciding that the President should know, and succinctly — two facts one editorial comment. I walked into the room, trying not to be disruptive to the young students and whispered in the President’s right ear, “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack!” I then stepped back so as not to invite a discussion. The President waited for an appropriate moment to excuse himself from the room. We then gathered in an adjoining room to learn more about the situation. It was an unbelievable day.
Adam, from Concord, NH writes:
Good evening, Mr. Card, as White House Chief of Staff what path or paths would you say are necessary for someone to take who aspires to play a similar role to yours in Government. I know you worked in McDonalds all through college but what would you recommend after that? Thank you.
One does not apply to be a President’s Chief of Staff. I certainly never expected to have the opportunity. I am trained as an engineer. Got involved with political campaigns. Served in local government in Holbrook, MA and in the Massachusetts House. I ran a forgetable campaign for Governor of MA and then was invited to work in The White House for President Reagan and then President Bush 41… Advice— get involved in helping with campaigns and keep following your moral compass.
Casey, from Quincy, MA writes:
Is there any new information on the location of Saddam Hussein? And can the war be deemed successful in terms of eliminating the security threat to the United States and other countries if Saddam is not killed or captured?
He is not likely to be in Quincy, Braintree, or my home-town of Holbrook. I think he is dead. The good news is that his regime is no longer a threat to the people of Iraq nor to the US or our allies.
Hmm, that last one is interesting, as is this one on North Korea:
- Glenn MacKay, from PEI, Canada writes:
What position is the U.S. going to take in the North Korean situation?
The important thing is that China, Russia, South Korea, Japan and the US work together to keep NK from becoming a greater regional threat. The leader of NK does not treat his people well. Hunger is rampant. The President and the international organization responsible for nuclear issues has recommended that the UN pay attention to the situation. The Chinese plan to participate by hosting a trilateral meeting with the US and NK. It would be great if Russia, Japan and SoKorea could participate too.
Doesn’t sound like a unilateral invasion is imminent. This one is a little creepy:
- Rob, from Canada writes:
How would you describe the White House culture? Are there any specific things about the Bush White House that make it unique from previous White Houses?
The President is a very disciplined individual — in faith, diet, exercise, and dedication to the task at hand. He follows a moral compass and sets a great ethical standard for all of us. The WH staff is not like the TV show — running and bumping into each other all day. We do our work, enjoy being around each other and love serving this President. Long hours are NOT a challenge, but an opportunity.
I think it’s important to reinforce the notion that Bush is disciplined, as the “loose cannon” epithet is often hurled at him by detractors, and sometimes reinforced by his own mouth.
The rest of the chat is of interest as well – tonight, Mark A. Forman, who runs the Office of Management and Budget’s “e-government initiatives” will hold a chat; then, on April 22, Earth Day, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman will hold a discussion.
As limited and arbitrary as these chats are, they are at least a glimpse into the minds and personalities of the administration: Andrew Card is a little more real for me today than he was yesterday.