They Were Brought On
Exactly a year ago today, George W. Bush glowered into a TV camera and dared Iraqi insurgents to "bring them on".
Since that day, 656 American troops have been killed
in Iraq. And even though we are no longer Iraq's "occupiers" (what are we, then?), the violence is not yet abating
Oy. This mess will not be easily solved, but we've already learned a bad situation can be made worse. Losing faith in the folks running the show doesn't mean we want them to lose. But if there are no WMD, and democracy is replaced by martial law, and the violence continues, how do we define winning?
Happy "Bring 'Em On" Day, Mr. President
Some Thoughts On The Nature Of Documentary
Every time Michael Moore releases a film, I find myself having the same conversation. Someone -- generally someone who disagrees with Mr. Moore, though not always -- comes along and says, "Yeah, but it's not a documentary." This time around it was my mother... her statement, after lamenting that Fahrenheit 9/11
was all anyone was talking about, was that "it's an editorial, not a documentary!"
After a brief statement to the contrary -- was this really the best tactic to take with her heavily-film-educated daughter? -- I let it drop; the part that I found most irritating was not the refutation of Moore's opinions (I'd assumed that much, what else is new?), but the unawareness of the simple wrong-ness of that line of reasoning. Not that Mom's alone in that -- far from it, although conservatives seem to place a special stake on it whenever Michael Moore comes into the conversation. There are an awful lot of people who have never given the subject much thought. Indeed, outside the cloistered little word of documentarians, society in general is woefully uninformed on the subject, including the well-educated. So, to address the topic once and hopefully be done with it (for this blog, at least), a few thoughts on the word "documentary" and its meanings and implications.
"Documentary film" is an incredibly broad, dynamic genre. One of the best definitions I've ever heard for "documentary" came from a nine-year-old. He said that a documentary was "a movie about real things." In many respects, this is about as rigid as most of us feel comfortable being. Another useful one, posited by John Grierson in "Cinema Quarterly" is this: "Documentary is the creative treatment of reality." This, obviously, can embrace a huge amount of material of all different kinds; the only requirements are that a) reality be involved (separating documentary from fiction film) and b) that creativity also be involved (separating documentary from journalism.) To pull the boundaries in a bit tighter (thus excluding, say, docu-drama and "reality TV" from the category), we might lean on the definition from the Film Studies Dictionary: "[A]ny film practice that has as its subject persons, events, or situations that exist outside the film in the real world." (No, "Temptation Island" doesn't exist outside the show.)
Note what is not assumed in any of these definitions: there is no mention of objectivity as a prerequisite; nor is there is any disqualification for manipulation of material. Obviously, there are other definitions, some of which are quite a bit more rigid than these. When I studied documentary from an anthropological perspective in college, one of the main frustrations came from the fact that, while film is obviously an invaluable tool in documenting other cultures, the imposition of the filmmaker's perspective was highly undesirable. And yet, true objectivity is impossible... as soon as you set your camera up here instead of there, as soon as you point your lens at this rather than that, you've made a subjective choice, and thus have, in a small way, imposed your perspective. For an anthropologist, documentary film is more of an intellectual trap than a creative medium, and many hours have been spent trying to find ways around this problem. Nobody has succeeded yet.
Fortunately for us, the definitions favored by most practitioners aren't nearly as limiting, and we can use documentary film as an artform rather than a quantitative research tool; so for us, the looser definitions will suffice.
Therefore a few misconceptions about documentary film, discussed:
1) Documentaries are supposed to be unbiased.
The only way to ensure a lack of bias is to maintain strict objectivity. Apart from being impossible in this imperfect reality, this is considered neither necessary nor even particularly desirable in a documentary film generally speaking. Documentarians are NOT journalists, and so don't work under the same conventions and guidelines as journalists. To be sure, there is some amount of bleed-over between documentary and journalism, and this is fine, so long as we recognize that journalistic documentary is merely one point along an immensely broad spectrum that also embraces dozens of very non-journalistic sub-genres, including propagandistic documentaries, abstract documentaries, art documentaries, et cetera. A lack of bias is a quality that documentary film can include, but it's far from a defining element.
2. Propaganda isn't documentary.
This is one of those problematic statements, made trickier by the connotations that have been attached to the word "propaganda." You say "propaganda" and all anyone thinks of are Nazis and communists (or, alternately, WWII newsreels, which were heavily propagandistic.) People rarely think of advertising (which is refined commercial propaganda) in this context, although it fits very comfortably inside the definition. You'll also notice that much propaganda still fulfills the few requirements of documentary film.
In the most general sense, propaganda is any message that is intended to serve a particular agenda. If we use this definition as a guide, then every political speech, every campaign ad, every editorial, and 95% of Fox News qualifies as propaganda. And yet, few of those who throw the word "propaganda" at Michael Moore would feel comfortable applying it to, say, Sean Hannity as well. Here we see the subjective side of the word "propaganda" coming into play.
What most people mean when they start throwing around the word "propaganda" in a perjorative sense is that they believe the message in question is false. This becomes a game of semantics -- in order to argue that "propaganda" isn't "documentary," you have to have already decided what you're referring to with those terms -- something few outside the field have considered prior to making the statement. I personally prefer to leave the connotations of veracity and falsehood at the door. It's quite possible to discuss the merits and weaknesses of a given film without making sly innuendoes about one's odious totalitiarian leanings and commitment to honesty. This use of the word "propaganda" also overlooks the fundamental point that sometimes propaganda is true and correct; just because a point is made in the service of a given agenda doesn't mean that point is inherently wrong.
If we apply the word "propaganda" to a Michael Moore film in the less-charged, intellectually-honest sense, then it's a reasonable point to make; indeed, I've made it myself in this very blog. It would be better for everyone, though, if we could limit ourselves to that formal definition. Assuming we do, then propaganda often meets the criterea for the documentary genre quite easily, and I'd argue that Fahrenheit 9/11
is included. Certainly, there are also types of propaganda that don't fit in -- advertising, for example, or propaganda that's so far out as to have little basis in reality (although this in itself presents some semantic issues). Here we start bumping up against the debates that have been frustrating us for centures: questions of libel, questions of artistic merit, and so on. Some propaganda films that espouse appalling agendas -- for example, Triumph of the Will
-- were remarkably artistically innovative for their time; and what qualifies as libel is always a sticky subject. Obviously there is very little consensus on the subject as a whole, and I wouldn't claim to have any easy answers. The best we can do is try to look at the world with an open mind and take each case as it comes.
3. Documentaries are never staged or scripted.
We can throw this one out immediately: anyone who has ever watched a documentary that includes a re-enactment of some kind has seen a staged and scripted bit of documentary. No sane filmmaker would go into a production without some idea of what he or she intends to shoot, and any amount of planning is arguably a form of staging and scripting. There is a point beyond which most documentarians will not go; a film that is heavily
staged and scripted is moving off into the realm of docu-drama. But there's not any definitive guideline saying how much is too much; it's strictly down to the filmmaker and her material to decide. Again, this isn't journalism, and documentarians are not bound by the same standards and practices. Our primary job is to tell a story that is firmly rooted in external reality, but to do so in an artistically interesting way.
This argument is one that always interests me, because it's one I've been having with myself for a long time now. I feel much less conflicted about Fahrenheit 9/11
than I do with some of Moore's previous work; it's a far more solid film than, say, Bowling For Columbine
(in technical documentary terms, of course). In thinking about the question over the last couple of months, I've found that I'm beginning to soften considerably, becoming more willing to take a broader position that encompasses more than I was previously. Mr. Moore seems determined to make me question my assumptions... and fair enough, that's kind of his thing. And as with all things in life, I reserve the right to change my mind.
For the record, I still think there are many better docs out there, though. May they one day get as much recognition as Fahrenheit 9/11
The Queers Are Gonna Steal Your Babies!
Seriously, what kind of crack is the religious right smoking?
Almost no attention has been devoted to what may be the more serious political question of who will supply the children of gay "parents," since obviously they cannot produce children themselves. A few will come from sperm donors and surrogate mothers, but very few. The vast majority will come, because they already do come, from pre-existing heterosexual families. In Massachusetts, "Forty percent of the children adopted have gone to gay and lesbian families," according to Democratic state Sen. Therese Murphy.
But whose rights are being denied depends on how deeply we probe and what questions we ask. Granting gay couples the "right" to have children by definition means giving them the right to have someone else's children, and the question arises whether the original parent or parents ever agreed to part with them.
Not necessarily. Governments that kind-heartedly bestow other people's children on homosexual couples also have both the power and the motivation to confiscate those children from their original parents, even when the parents have done nothing to warrant losing them.
Failure to grasp this nettle will leave social conservatives exposed to ever more contempt from a public that is crying out for leadership to rescue the family but which has been led to view social conservatives, however unjustly, as puritanical bigots who want to deny equal rights to homosexuals â rights that entail powers of totalitarian dimensions, undreamed of before the sexual revolution.
I'm just going to sit here in slack-jawed astonishment at the mind-boggling ignorance, stupidity and plain old irrational fear and hatred displayed in this column for a few minutes... talk amongst yourselves...
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Production Journal, Postscript
Tonight was the last night of shooting of any significant kind: a couple of little pickup shots with three actors and a barebones crew. I wasn't even there until the very end, and only then because Morgan needed a prop note I had in my possession (written in my own scrawly cursive; I've hardly ever used it since elementary school). I brought it out to 'em and hid behind a car through the shot... and that was that. End of production.
It was unlike any shoot I've worked on before (apart from a couple of days I spent swinging a boom on Blue Citrus Hearts
), wildly unstructured and hard to pin down. It was also, for the most part, free of serious ego conflict or hassle, and the rigor of the work involved paled in comparison to what I used to do in film school. (How I miss those weeks in Studio B at LFS -- literally weeks
on the set, leaving only to use the toilet and procure food, sleeping on the studio floor with nary so much as a sleeping bag -- we were hard core, we were.)
But yeah, it was good... I felt a little useless now and then, and while I never mentioned this to Morgan or Amber beforehand, I loathe
doing A.D. work. It always bothers me that women, regardless of how technically good they might be, invariably get channeled off into support work and administrative stuff... I can handle a camera pretty well, y'know, and know my XLR from my RCA, my jib from my tilt. But never mind; it looks like I'll get to use all that next time around, and for this film it was enough just to be helpful.
The strangest thing about dissolving a crew, I always find, is the peculiar kind of absence you feel for a while afterwards. About half the crew were essentially strangers to me when we began, and now, y'know, I'll actually miss them. Without going into "we were like a family" cliches -- we were more like a gang of hooligans much of the time -- it'll be strange not to see Mike or Sebastian or Sean every day.
Ginger, however, is still around -- she might as well move to Memphis at this rate, she'd be most welcome. She seems to be having a great time with her crew around her, and she's treating us to all kinds of interesting fun. Dinners, movies, the lot... tonight we saw Spiderman 2
(not half bad), and there's talk later this week of indulging in The Stepford Wives
. (I know the remake's not supposed to be that great, but I really like the original, so I'm willing to give it a try. And anything with Christopher Walken in it can't be all bad.)
Tomorrow, however, is the tattoo party. Four or five of the crew are going over to Underground Art to get inked up, at Ginger's urging. I will be going, although I will not be among the inkees; if my first boyfriend, who was a body-mod fiend, couldn't convince me to have a go, I doubt these people can (althought they've tried, god knows.) I'm going mostly to watch and provide moral support in the form of gentle mockery of the others' pain. I did cop to a willingness to get a fresh piercing -- just my left ear, nothinge exotic; I'm pretty conventional when it comes to where I maintain holes -- but it sounds like the people at U.A. are pretty full-up tomorrow, so I doubt that'll happen.
I was asked, though, if I were
to get a tattoo, what would I get? This, of course, is a difficult question -- my skin doesn't seem to yearn for illustration like that of some people, and there isn't much I can think of, really, that I feel certain I'd like to look at for the next five or six decades.
But if I did
get a tattoo, I think I'd get this:
This is the symbol (vever
) for Erzulie
, the Haitian Vodoun loa ruling love and femininity and female energy and all that kind of thing. I did a lot of research into Vodoun when I was in college (one of many reasons why no other school will accept my transfer credits), and became an official admirer of the religion, which is actually very subtle and elegant and has almost nothing to do with sticking things into dolls... although it does happen from time to time. Anyway, a vever
is a symbol drawn with sand or cornmeal or ground chalk on the floor of the sacred space to "call" the loa in; the idea is that you draw one side with your right hand and one side with your left hand simultaneously. I can barely draw it at all, much less ambidextrously. But over the decade since I first became intrigued, I've been fond of this little ritual diagram. And I think, if I were so inclined (which I'm not), it would make a pretty good tattoo.
Apart from rambling aimlessly, I also want to use this final post as a place to consolidate all those daily posts on the production, so they all link up together nicely:Day OneDay TwoDay ThreeDay FourDay FiveDay SixDay SevenDay EightDay NineDay TenDay ElevenDay TwelveDay ThirteenDay FourteenDay Three, RevisitedDay FifteenDay Sixteen
Starting July 11 (give or take) I'll be starting the next shoot, which should be a completely different animal. I don't know if I'm going to journal that one the way I did this one -- it was something I found I didn't want to do after the hard days, and I couldn't think of much to write after the easy days -- but if anything interesting happens, I'll probably post about it.
So... there it is, then.
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
I haven't yet seen Super Size Me
, and I'm not entirely sure I want to either - I suspect I would end up feeling rather ill.
But I had to laugh when I read this story
in the paper today. You can't believe everything you see at the movies, y'know?
Sinking Ship - Rats = Conservatives Against The War
Even William F. Buckley is now against the war in Iraq
. William Fuckin' Buckley!
Jeez, at this rate I half expect to see Kissinger come out and declare the war a waste of human life...
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
In two and a half hours, I'm due to lead another workshop at the MeDiA Co-op; the evening's topic is camera operating, something that I particularly enjoy and like to think I'm reasonably good at.
So why do I feel so unenthusiastic?
The Co-op workshop is one of those things that sounds great, and is no doubt very necessary, and somebody out there somewhere is going to figure out exactly how to do it well. But for me, in this particular situation, I'm increasingly just feeling at a loss. A few months ago, not long after I became the workshop co-ordinator, I designed and implemented a whole curriculum, something that I hoped would keep people involved, or at least make the workshops more predictable. I based it on the production process -- first some basic concepts, then some fundamental pre-production issues, followed by production and post-production stuff. It seemed like a good idea -- hell, it IS a good idea. But at this point, it seems to be doing more to highlight the intrinsic weaknesses in our plan than to strengthen the program.
- How do you teach people who've never held a camera how to make films in two (maybe three) hours per week? I spent twelve hours a day, six days a week for three years learning this stuff to a level that's more about competence than genius; now I've got maybe 100 hours a year to work with. Sounds like a lot, but when you consider the turnover rate and the choppiness of that time, it's almost nothing.
- How do I teach anything to a meaningful degree when I rarely have people staying around for more than four months at a time? I'd love to be working on more advanced concepts now, but by the time we've covered the basics, we've got an entirely new crowd of people and have to start all over again. We never get past a very elementary level.
- How do I deal with the inherent indifference of a typical group? Our workshops are mostly made up of people who think they maybe would like to make a film (or at least would like to call themselves filmmakers), but don't, for the most part, seem to have much interest in the actual work that goes into a film. Yes, there are a few gung-ho people, but not many of them actually need anything like our workshops; they're already out there doing all we could ask them to do. So what do I do with the rest?
- Should I even be expecting people to make films? Maybe all they want to do is sit around and talk about it... and hell, maybe that's enough. Maybe the only useful role I've got in this is to facilitate discussion and educate them in the hopes of making them better film-viewers.
I mean, seriously, what's the point? That's not a hypothetical question... I really, truly want to know what the point of this is. I can't help but think that this is genuinely important -- we're at a pivotal moment in the medium, a point when the average Joe and Jane can start making films of their own, and consequently allowing us to tap all that unused potential for innovation and originality. And I would very much like, in some way, to help facilitate this quiet revolution. But how the fuck are we supposed to revolt in two hours per week?
The usual disclaimers apply: I'm sure this is more about my lack of skill as an educator than it is about those I'm attempting to teach; the people who come to our workshops are great, etc. It's still incredibly frustrating.
Monday, June 28, 2004
Don't Cry For Me, Manitoba
Just thought y'all would like to know, Paul Martin's Liberal Party (which is actually liberal... I think... I'm all confused now) barely squeaked in a win
in Canada's general election today.
Not that this means much to me personally... but if Canada went all right-winger on us, well, that would be awfully sad. (Where would we run once the draft starts up, eh?)
(What, are you surprised that I know the name of the Canadian Prime Minister? Hell... I can even sing their national anthem and name all their provinces and territories. Now ask yourself... can George W. Bush
An Important Victory
I don't have much time right now, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the major, major SCOTUS decisions
1) Prisoners at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay are entitled to lawyers and court hearings.
2) Prisoners at Gitmo are also within the jurisdiction of the United States Court System.
This is a fairly significant blow to the Bush administration, which had been arguing that as enemy combatants, none of these prisoners were entitled to legal counsel, and that since they technically were being held outside of U.S. borders, they were also beyond the reach of American courts. Basically, the Bush administration wanted them left in limbo where they could do as they pleased with them; the Supreme Court decided that was bullshit.
The point here is that, as guilty as some of those prisoners no doubt are, there are certain standards that we uphold, certain lines we don't cross. The United States does not run gulags where people can be quietly "disappeared" away, and we prove guilt in an open and transparent court system, not in dog cages and "interrogation" rooms.
Predictably, Scalia voted against human rights and in favor of the gulags. Not surprising.
Stirrin' the pot
Michael Moore is a common name: New Zealand had a prime minister called Michael Moore
, who later went on to be head of the World Trade Organisation. In a previous job I had a boss called Michael Moore (different guy). And I was at high school with a guy called Michael Moore (different guy again.) How many Michael Moores do you
Anyway, the Moore of the moment sure is causing a fuss. Even over here in Australia - where Fahrenheit 9/11 has not even been released yet! The Australian
newspaper ran a slightly abridged version of the Hitchens critique on Saturday morning, and today the letters page was full of indignant responses to Hitchens (one or two of which were by people who actually claimed to have seen the movie.)
It's no surprise that dyed-in-the-wool small-l liberals are just loving the movie, but when we have self-described "ultra-conservatives" saying things like this:
The film itself very much reflects its creator: It's shaggy, flabby, occasionally witty, and frequently infuriating. It will have a HUGE impact because Moore â his facile leftist economics notwithstanding â has nailed his case against the Bush regime flush to the plank. It will be all but impossible for anybody who sits still and watches this film to view Bush the Lesser as anything other than a petty, spiteful, dim-witted, bloody-handed little fool â and the figurehead of a murderous power elite. This explains why the Bu'ushists are threatening to go Abu Ghraib on Moore: They're busted. source
then you know something big is happening. (Now, ere you start to think perhaps the twain have met, out of fairness please go and read this post
from the same site as the above.)
One more quote, which is the one that I will probably have in the back of my mind when I eventually get to see the movie:
The theatrical poster for "Fahrenheit 9/11" (which even Moore's critics must admit is pretty darn clever) features a heavily doctored photo of a smiling Moore holding hands with President Bush above a tagline which reads -- "Controversy . . . what controversy?" It's funny enough on a superficial level but even funnier in an ironic sense, because the two men actually have more in common than either of them would probably care to admit.
You see, both Moore and Bush are masters of oversimplification. They can take complex situations, trim out all the facts that contradict one particular point of view, and then convincingly present what remains as the one correct way to view the situation.
This whole Iraq/terrorism/war/Bush thing is not black and white. It is many many nuances of grey. Earlier today I read an article in the paper
about a small businessman in Baghdad who is doing very well these days selling CDs. J Lo in particular is very popular. Lots and lots of people in Baghdad now apparently have mobile phones - there were none a year ago. (I could probably send someone a text message right now!) People talk about the banality of evil, but the sheer ordinariness of J-Lo and the mobile phones got me thinking that it can't be all
death, destruction, mayhem and beheadings over there right now.
I've periodically seen opinion polls quoted, which report that a large proportion of the Iraqi people (even a majority, perhaps) say that their lives are better now than they were before the war. I don't know whether it's actually true that people think that, or whether it's simply true that the respondents said such things to pollsters while thinking something else, or whether such polls are all complete bullshit. And that kind of sums it up for me a lot of the time. I just don't know.
On to something altogether more amusing. Ever wonder who Hillary Clinton was named after? Wonder no more
Actions That Make No Sense #1247
It was announced today that, after 15 months of hanging around, it has suddenly become absolutely imperative that the handover of "authority" to Iraq be made not two days from now, oh no... it has to be done today
. TODAY, DAMN IT!
The reason that was given for suddenly wanting to pull it forward by two desperately-urgent days when we've been putzing around for so long? Why, to show the terrorists who's boss. (How exactly that gets the point across I'm not certain.)
Does this make sense to anybody?
But hey, at least now we can bring all those troops home, right? Yep, our fighting men and women should be home by the end of the week. Right?
(But seriously, 100 points to anyone who can explain to me what the fuck just happened. CNN's reporting that the handover has already occured; there's talk of "heavy helicopter activity." Why are we getting out so fast?)
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Oh, And By The Way...
...lest anyone get the impression that only hardcore lefties are supporting this film, apparently Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was just quoted on Fox News
advising his pit crew to go see it. Apparently he said "it's a good thing as an American to go see."
The film's doing as well in red states and GOP-solid areas as it is in New York City. It was selling out screens in Fort Meyers, Florida, Houston, Texas and Ames, Iowa as easily as it was in San Francisco. Perhaps this will do something to dissipate the common misconception that this is about yankees vs. southerners, or city people vs. small town folks.
Hell, even Merle Haggard (who, of course, recorded "Okie From Muskogee" during the Vietnam War) was against this war
Suddenly I'm a lot more curious about country music and NASCAR.
Record Bustin' Daddy: Update
The weekend box office has been called for Fahrenheit 9/11
. The numbers will be confirmed tomorrow, but these numbers are usually pretty close to correct. If they are adjusted, I have a feeling they'll be adjusted upward.
This is a staggering result on a number of levels. This ain't just any old "#1 at the Box Office" opening weekend; this is something that's never been seen before.
1) Bowling For Columbine
, previously the highest-grossing documentary feature film of all time, made roughly $21.6 million over 28 weeks. Fahrenheit 9/11
just made $21.9 million in three days
2) Fahrenheit 9/11
has just become the first documentary -- in history
-- to become the #1 film at the U.S. box office.
3) The #2 and #3 films, White Chicks
, opened on 2,726 and 3,020 screens respectively. F 9/11
opened on only 868. This is the first time that a documentary film has even managed to compete with big-budget Hollywood releases, let alone beat them.
This has been a bizarre year for film marketing, proving at least that the studios and powerful distributors are not untouchable after all.
Get your numbers here
, and more information here
I think it's safe to guess that nobody saw this coming. Even the most gung-ho enthusiasts, had they been asked, would not have guessed that F 9/11
would have had such a massive impact in its very first weekend. The outlook for the film seemed to be good, but it certainly didn't predict this kind of reaction from the public... nothing said this would happen.
Wouldn't it be cool if the election turned out to be the same? Wouldn't it be amazing to see the liberals and the sane conservatives coming out to vote in huge, surprising numbers? Wouldn't it be incredible if George W. Bush turned out to be November 2's White Chicks
This just in: Karl Rove shitting his pants as we speak.Update 6/28
: As predicted, the opening-weekend box office for Fahrenheit 9/11
has been revised upward, to a total three-day take of $23.9M (or roughly 3.5 million tickets sold). That's $2M higher than the estimates, and $4.2M more than White Chicks
. More screens are being added for the coming weekend, and more still for the weekend after that. Video and DVD will be released by election day.
Rebuttal to Hitchens
I've already posted this link in a comment box below, but it's awfully easy to miss there. I was considering making a rebuttal against Hitchens
myself, but why bother when somebody else has already done it
The Difference Between American Journalists And Real Journalists
So, Bush's people are pissed off an Carole Coleman.
Why? Because when she did an interview with him for Irish television on Friday night, she asked too many questions. And when she asked them, she didn't just accept the standard "blah blah freedom blah blah terrorists" answers that they offer to everyone over here. She actually wanted, like, actually real answers and stuff. The nerve!
But I suppose we could excuse Bush for being miffed at being ambushed by what he thought would be a friendly reporter. You go in expecting one thing, and you get something completely different... that would be rough, sure.
Oh... except Coleman had already cleared all the questions
with Bush and his team. D'oh!
I think it's actually a much more tragic statement about the American media than about Carole Coleman. The woman clearly made some not-entirely-journalistic concessions, and was still
handed her ass when she (gasp!) expected answers that made sense. Anybody who's been watching the American media pussyfoot around Bush for three-and-a-half years, never asking him for anything more than a few minutes in which to watch him sitting there looking pretty and talking like a cowboy, knows about this all too well.