Would you believe it? Not only can that Texan halfwit speak in proper sentences, he is even capable of reading a good speech and not fluffing his lines. It only goes to show what you can do with a speechwriter and some coaching. The response to President George W Bush's speech on Wednesday has been almost universally (and so typically Britishly) condescending. Few have criticised its content; since it ranks as one of the finest delivered by a visiting leader; that would be a sneer too far. Instead, reaction has been surprise, either feigned or genuine, that he managed to speak for so long, so well.
Mary Dejevsky, writing in The Independent, was typical: "Whoever has been coaching George Bush in oratory deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom (and a congratulatory glass of champagne)." Almost the entire British chattering class seems to be animated by the same deep-seated contempt for Mr Bush. Even when confronted by the evidence of their own eyes and ears, that he is a thoughtful, charming, convincing, eloquent, intelligent, forceful leader, they cannot bring themselves to believe that he is as he seems. And when they do witness such positive traits, they are clearly being hoodwinked. As The Guardian began its leader on Thursday: "Conscious that he has a bit of catching up do to, George Bush turned on the charm yesterday."
No, he didn't. He spoke as he always does: with a clarity of moral and political purpose unmatched by any American politician since Ronald Reagan, and with a charm that all who have met him confirm is entirely natural. The speech should hardly have come as a surprise. After all, he spoke just as eloquently when interviewed by Sir David Frost last Sunday. But until now the chatterers have chosen neither to listen nor to see. Last week they had no alternative, and so decided it was a one-off.
What such attitudes really reveal, however, is not how much they loathe President Bush but the reality of — I choose my words carefully — anti-Americanism in Britain. It is a phrase that has been bandied about far too loosely of late and is usually intended — and taken — to mean a loathing and hatred of all things, and people, American.
(Stephen Pollard in The Telegraph, November 23, 2003)
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