Courtesy of the AP, here's a glimpse of Bush's notes at his press conference yesterday, published over at Arianna's place:
I took a few minutes with Photoshop, and now here are the same notes, rotated and made a little clearer, as if we're looking down from the podium ourselves:
First thing that leaps out is the semi-literate capitalization habits, but we saw that before in his note telling Condi he needed to wee. So, sigh, nothing new there. Moving on.
Some of the writing is too fuzzy to make out, but by blowing the picture up and fooling with the contrast slider, this much was pretty clear on the left side:
history not written
capacity to shape
[two illegible fragments]
What I have found from
[strike-through] Don't want to split
Forces are united
Imagine how addled you'd have to be to need to actually write down reminders to yourself to burp up meaningless phrases like "history not written." Which, in case you were wondering, yes, he actually used in the first two responses he gave:
You know, I hear a lot of talk about civil war. I'm concerned about that, of course, and I've talked to a lot of people about it. And what I've found from my talks are that the Iraqis want a unified country, and that the Iraqi leadership is determined to thwart the efforts of the extremists and the radicals and al Qaeda, and that the security forces remain united behind the government.
[Emphasis added. Moments later, the second question]
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Iran has indicated that it will defy the U.N. on nuclear enrichment. It's been holding military exercises, sending weapons and money to Hezbollah. Is Tehran's influence in the region growing, despite your efforts to curb it?
THE PRESIDENT: The final history in the region has yet to be written. And what's very interesting about the violence in Lebanon...
Wow. History may not yet be written, but every damn thing Bush says apparently is. Man.
Pretty convenient, btw, that the first two reporters' questions just happened to lead directly to the empty responses Bush was already planning to use, right there on the top left of his cheat sheet. Gosh, that must have been terribly lucky.
In the center we glimpse Bush's diagram of whom he's supposed to call on. You'll notice a few of the seats down front have big, bold boxes around them. I can't make out most of the names, but the two visible at bottom right seem pretty clearly to be:
CBS Radio Mark Knoller
NBC Kelly O'Donnell
And sure enough, those two got called on. I have no idea how Bush's system actually works, but it sure looks like the poor kids in the back might be completely ignored.
Speaking of poor people being ignored: on the right, Bush has some specific notes about Katrina. Here's the best I can make of it, omitting the impenetrably teeny sub-notes:
Katrina: 110 Billion
16.7 Bil Housing
6 Bil [illegible; possibly "Levee's"]
1.8 Bil -- educ.
(and spent [illegible] Sept.)
2.0 Bil -- Health
20.8 Flood Insurance
39 B Immediate help
[Two illegible lines, although percentages and the underlined word "Dry" appear to be visible]
So, when Katrina comes up, Bush starts ticking off his prepared numbers and buzzwords, but look what happens when he gets interrupted before he's done impressing us with his vast knowledge of the subject:
First things -- the first thing that's necessary to help the recovery is money. And our government has committed over $110 billion to help. Of that, a lot of money went to -- went out the door to help people adjust from having to be moved because of the storm. And then there's rental assistance, infrastructure repair, debris removal. Mississippi removed about 97 percent, 98 percent of its -- what they call dry debris. We're now in the process of getting debris from the water removed. Louisiana is slower in terms of getting debris removed. The money is available to help remove that debris. People can get after it, and I would hope they would.
Q What --
THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish. Thank you. We provided about $1.8 billion for education. That money has gone out the door. We want those schools up and running. As I understand, the schools are running now in New Orleans, a lot of schools are. Flood insurance, we're spending money on flood insurance. There is more work to be done, particularly when it comes to housing. We've spent about -- appropriated about $16 billion...
He never actually got to the rest of his numbers, choosing instead to repeat the first few a couple of times each.
Obviously, we all know that these things are stage-managed to the hilt, so this is really nothing new. Just interesting to see the mechanism from Bush's side of the podium.
Also, pretty damn depressing.