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February 24, 2005
No Script, No George

If Bush can't have a town hall meeting about Freedom™ in which all the "townsfolk" are screened and all the questions are scripted, well, by god he won't have no town hall meeting at all.

Because, as you know, this trip is about "mending fences," and "pretending everybody likes us." It wouldn't do to have real people asking real questions. If Jeff Gannon can't be there, the whole thing's off.

The much-touted American-style "town hall" meeting the White House has been planning with "normal Germans" of everyday walks of life will be missing during his visit to the Rhine River hamlet of Mainz this afternoon.

A few weeks ago, the Bush administration had declared that the chat -- which could have brought together tradesmen, butchers, bank employees, students and all other types to discuss trans-Atlantic relations -- would be the cornerstone of President George W. Bush's brief trip to Germany [...]

The Germans, though, insisted that a free forum should be exactly that. Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany's Ambassador to the United States, explained to the New York Times last week: "We told them, don't get upset with us if they ask angry questions."

In the end, the town hall meeting was never officially dropped from the agenda of the trip -- instead it was dealt with in polished diplomatic style -- both sides just stopped talking about it.

Der Spiegel


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