Sunday, May 24, 2009

Back to the Roundtable

Ask A President Roundtable

Greetings faithful Roundtable followers, and welcome back. I'm glad you all decided to join us for another edition of a perennial favorite here at These Gentlemen, wherein all of us get the chance to put up our own thoughts and discuss them amongst ourselves and our readers. We look forward to responding to the Roundtable questions, but not as much as we do conversing with you about our answers.

This week's question is perhaps as verbose as it is intriguing. Rather than a direct line of inquiry, I provided the Gentlemen with a scenario. In this realm of the fantastic, certain assumptions were made regarding their activities. For some reason, perhaps in the course of gentlemanly pursuits, our contributors found themselves on an airplane. Booking errors and flight problems abounding, as they are wont to do, the airline has graciously allowed an upgrade to first class.

Sitting down to enjoy the comforts of the next three to four hours, our gentlemen are then surprised to discover that the person who will be sharing this time in the seat beside them is our 43rd President. George W. Bush, on an errand only he is privy to, is another passenger on this flight, and will be seated next to them. So, given this set of circumstances, what do you do? What do you say?

Let's find out!

Adam Winer

This is obviously a rare opportunity, but what to do with it? I imagine some might like to take the time to chastise (or praise) the former Prez. I personally would rather not go down that route. Instead, if I can initiate a conversation, I expect my time to be well spent. There's not a lot of things I don't know about GW Bush's policies and political decisions.... as President they were well-documented and scrutinized, as any US Prez experiences. Instead, this sounds like a chance to talk to Bush person-to-person, citizen-to-citizen. What's it like leaving the Oval Office? What are your plans for the future? Heck, did you enjoy it? What's with this swine flu huh? Is Texas really thinking of seceding?

My first remark though -- what, no Air Force One anymore?

Botanical Graham

If I know myself, and I do, I know for a fact I wouldn't say anything. I would surreptitiously take his picture with my phone and text it to everyone I know. Then I would sit there in silence, awkward awkward silence, while I desperately avoided eye contact. I would do this for two reasons: 1) I am incredibly awkward and it would be a miracle if I recognized him without a television around him, and 2) What do you SAY to that guy??

He left the office in shame (and shambles) and a large portion of the country at this point openly, vocally hates him. I kind of feel bad for the guy. His mistakes far outweigh and overshadow the good things he did, and the press seems to be unable to even mention his name, referring to him as "the PREVIOUS administration."

I would have absolutely no words for him. Everything my intellectual, political self might say has been said countless times and said better, and my emotional, empathetic self would just want to give him a hug. But that would be weird and I don't think he would appreciate it. Also it could cause a scandal, and I'm not tryna do that right now.

Stephen Bragale

I'm thinking it goes something like...

Me- Hi there, I'm Stephen. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance.
W- Yea, you too four eyes. Excuse me, tray lady, can I have a Jack and Coke, hold the Jack? Heh heh heh. You see, I don't do that.
Me- Do what, sir?
W- Drinking, son.
Me- Why not?
W- Well, let's just say I've learned from my mistakes and I'm looking forward.
Me- Oh, well that's good.
W- (brief pause, W does a double take) Say what, blinky?
Me- I said that's good, sir.
W- (standing now) You hear that, everyone? This young man says I did somethin' good!
Me- (yelling) By not drinking, word.
W- (sitting back down) Yea son, word.
Me- *sigh* (pulls hat down over eyes)
W- Hey nice hat, man.

Alison Daniels

Honestly, I'm painfully shy, so in reality there's a chance I wouldn't even work up the courage to say hello and ask for a picture and autograph. If I happened to grow a pair during the course of the flight, though, I might thank him for putting up with so much shit from millions of people while doing one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

John Ozkirbas

I'll be honest, I'm not quite sure if I'd really say anything at all. There's nothing that I could say that hasn't been said or ask that hasn't been answered before. Nothing that I'll hear that hasn't been rehearsed to death. Nothing that'll separate me from the resounding crash of a ocean's worth of displeasure. I don't have the sense of self-importance to believe that I could wreck his day or make him feel guilty, nor do I think that he'd be some untapped wealth of knowledge from which to take a lesson. That isn't to knock his intelligence, per se - I just highly suspect that we have different interests. I don't particularly have strong emotions about him - hate, disgust, and other negatives just aren't things I'd waste the energy to do with him. Disappointment, maybe. And, even if I did, I certain I wouldn't take much pleasure in it. And, I feel that it would be in bad character and taste to do otherwise. The man was president, after all, and that, at least in my eyes, affords a certain level of respect. With that said, that doesn't mean I liked him. I certainly didn't agree with all of his policies. But, that doesn't mean I'd want to berate the guy, either.

So, I'd sit next to George W. Bush, sip on some complementary champagne, enjoy a warm face towel, take a nap. Maybe I'd watch an in-flight movie. Who knows? Maybe I'd ask him to pick out something to watch for me. That's always a good way to start a conversation. Anyway, at the end of the day, I'm gonna have a story to tell either way.

Damien Nichols

In true Damo fashion, I would treat him like any other person. I'd start up a conversation, maybe about nacho's, maybe about weapons of mass destruction. I'd casually enjoy the exchange while noting the differences (and similiarities) between this encounter and every time I've seen him on screen. I just want to hear him speak naturally, look him in the eyes, and see if there is any guilt, pride, regret... or just mild bewilderment. It'd be a fascinating case study.

Max Nova

I would be polite for most of the flight, talk about baseball and whatnot. Then as we were landing I'd tell him to go fuck himself, grab my luggage and go.

Jason Schlafstein

"So... how many times do you think I could poke you before i got shot? "

David Pratt

I actually consulted my father on this question before coming up with my own response. His words were that he would shake the President's hand and thank him for doing his job despite all the pressure and criticism from an ungrateful public, but he sure wishes he hadn't gone into Iraq. That said, he's happy he put forth the effort to get the job done.

While I'm not sure I entirely agree with my father, I do nonetheless fall into the camp of those who would thank President Bush for staying the course. My question to him would be why he didn't more clearly define what that course was. What made it necessary to try and pull the wool over America's eyes? If we were really in there for the right reasons, why not define those reasons right off the bat instead of months and years of explanations that were continually debunked? Do you regret the tatters your administration left the Republican party in?

And while it's entirely possible I would get around to asking all about how he actually governed the country and to explain the choices he made, it would have to be only if my first round of questions were answered. Without fail, I would grill the ex-President over the process of starting up his campaign, how he ran it, who to get in touch with, and what moves to make in order to win the office. He might not be the ideal person to talk to in regards to getting a clean and easy victory, but hey, it's a start.

Thus another edition of the Roundtable concludes, with our Presidential conversations eager for exploration. What do you think of our responses? What would you say to the former Commander-in-Chief? Let us know, and then come back next week when the Roundtable convenes once more.


B.Graham said...

I think this is my favorite Round Table so far. Also I'm totally in love with the fact that I'm Jackie O.

Damo said...

Franklin Pierce is totally misunderstood and underrated. That being said, he was probably a perfect choice for me.

But did you really put a picture of yourself? The EGO on this guy! :-p

Damo said...

Franklin Pierce is totally misunderstood and underrated. That being said, he was probably a perfect choice for me.

But did you really put a picture of yourself? The EGO on this guy! :-p

Ozkirbas said...


Dennis said...

The Roundtable is pretty gnarly. Great responses all around.

I'm not a Bush hater, I'm pretty neutral to him. I do think that he had an incredibly hard job, a job where groups of people are going to hate you no matter what you do. I would have to introduce myself, maybe make some small talk, but I wouldn't want to bother him. (Being famous would blow.)