Bush's final press conference was, at best, a maladroit, awkward, and typically belated attempt at final fence-mending before the president leaves office for good. As Dana Milbank notes in Tuesday's Washington Post, Bush seemed well-rehearsed and ready to discuss the myriad issues upon which he often draws the most criticism -- the economy, Katrina, Abu Ghraib, the "Mission Accomplished" banner, and more. Milbank writes:
By the time he finished, it was hard to imagine why only 23 percent of Americans are able to see the Bush years for the unqualified success that they are. "I thank you for giving me a chance to defend a record that I am going to continue to defend, because I think it's a good, strong record," the president declared.
On a more amusing note (or maybe just sad), Milbank also references a bulletin to the White House press corps issued prior to the press conference. The memo set a tone importance and fanfare for the event. But, when the moment of the event rolled around, there was apparently such a dearth of reporters and spectators in the room that White House interns were conscripted to fill the empty chairs.
The White House had high expectations for yesterday's final, historic news conference. "ONE CORRESPONDENT PER ORGANIZATION," proclaimed the bulletin sent to reporters. "STANDING ROOM ONLY FOR NON-SEAT HOLDERS." But when the appointed hour of 9:15 a.m. arrived, the last two rows in the seven-row briefing room were empty, and a press aide told White House interns to fill those seats.
Needless to say, the final press conference seems to have fallen short of White House expectations (but presumably not the expectations of anyone else). Think Progress even highlights the final seconds of the event wherein the press members who actually did show up do not seem to know how to respond as Bush abruptly thanks them and exits the stage. Watch the abjectly anti-climatic video below to see Bush's final words and exodus:
Bush often discusses the different roles "long-term" and "short-term" history will play in defining his legacy. And though the countless "Bushisms" of the past eight years are adequately immortalized in print, video, and audio form, there is a certain sadness to the fact that there will no longer be a constant barrage of new material. But then again, there's always Sarah Palin and "Joe the War Correspondent" to satiate our collective appetite for unapologetic obtuseness in the public forum.