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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Posted: July 23, 2008 02:57 PM

Media React to Bush "Drunk" Video: "Happy Hour in Washington"?


After it first gained wide attention here at HuffPost yesterday, media commentators started weighing in on the brief video captured (probably via cell phone) at a private fundraiser in which President Bush joked about Wall Street getting "drunk" and making light of the U.S. housing crisis. Dan Froomkin at The Washington Postcalled it Bush's "YouTube Moment," which makes you marvel -- yes, he has had relatively few of them, at least of the "whoops, that was private" variety.

Amazingly, earlier that same day -- last Friday -- at another fundraiser in Tucson, Bush, according to Daniel Scarpinato of the Arizona Daily Star had fretted about this eventuality. "So sensitive were Republicans about information getting out about the goings-on at the Tucson fundraiser . . . even W. himself," he wrote, "made sure to ask the 400 or so people at the event to turn off any recording devices. 'I don't know a lot about technology,' the president said, according to one insider, 'but I do know about YouTube.'"

At least he didn't say "the YouTube" or "the Tubes."

Here is some other commentary:

David Gaffen at the Wall Street Journal's Marketbeat blog, headlines his post "Happy Hour in Washington," and notes: "What we are sure of is this: if Wall Street was drunk, who was the bartender handing out free drinks? Our thoughts at right." That image shows Alan Greenspan and President Bush.

Floyd Norris of theNew York Times targeted the same pair on his blog: "A Federal Reserve chairman once said that the Fed's job was to take away the punch bowl when the party was getting good. Unfortunately, the Greenspan Fed and the Bush administration did all they could to keep the punch bowl full, fighting off efforts to regulate 'fancy financial instruments' or restrain the excessive leverage that will now lead to massive government bailouts to avert a financial disaster."

Julie Mason and Alan Bernstein in the Houston Chronicle, the first newspaper site to run the video after the local ABC affiliate had beat them to it: "The president's blunt remarks were a sharp departure from the more measured tones he uses publicly to discuss the economy and national housing market collapse....The jocular tone Bush used to describe a serious subject also underscores the pitfalls of being candid in an age of tiny camera phones. News reporters were prohibited from the Olson event in River Oaks last Friday."

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in the Financial Times: "Mr. Bush has rarely been caught on video making such frank remarks before a friendly audience about a politically sensitive topic, proving that even the carefully guarded White House is susceptible to being caught off guard in the new era of the endless internet campaign."
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Greg Mitchell's new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq. He is editor of Editor & Publisher.