George W. Bush might not enjoy his prime-time press conference tonight, but he can be grateful for one thing: He'll be taking questions from generally docile and deferential White House reporters rather than from the readers of War Room.
You people are testy!
We asked you earlier today to send in questions you'd ask the president if given the chance, and you responded with enough to fill a dozen press conferences. And let's be clear about this: They wouldn't be particularly pleasant press conferences, at least not for the guy in the suit with that thing on his back standing up there at the podium.
Let's begin with Jessica White of Kansas City, a veritable one-woman Washington press corps. "Yes or no, Mr. President: Have you ever used cocaine? What really happened to your National Guard records? Did you purposefully lie about the WMDs in Iraq, or are you just that stupid? How many more soldiers have to die in Iraq before you admit that it was a mistake? And what about Poland?"
With the number of terrorist attacks worldwide at an all-time high, a reader named Mark would ask, "Can you explain exactly what you mean when you say that we're 'winning the war on terror'?" A number of readers want to know if the president will be sending his daughters to fight in Iraq, and Michael Wold knows just what he'd say if the president starts to slip and slide: "It's a yes or no question, Mr. Bush. Please -- I didn't ask if freedom is on the march or what hard work it is to support a fledgling democracy."
Many of you would pause a moment for questions of faith. After a long set-up about tax breaks for the rich, Roger Webb of Little Rock, Ark., would ask: "How do you call this Christian? The only person in the whole New Testament that Jesus explicitly consigned to hell was the rich guy who would not show charity to the poor guy." Andy Silverman asks: "Though you have said that the jury is still out on the theory of evolution, you seem to advocate the most vicious forms of social Darwinism when it comes to funding benefits for society's poorest and most vulnerable members, especially children. Can you explain how your 'culture of life' philosophy applies to that class of Americans, particularly those among them who are already born and not brain dead?" One reader asks: "Mr. President, can a Christian get into heaven even if he purposefully lies and deceives millions of people in an effort to cover his true intentions because he knows he can't make any progress on his agenda if he tells the truth -- or will you be going to hell?" And several readers would pose variations on this theme: "Mr. President, do you think the United States would be a better place if Christianity were the official religion?"
Darel Bridges of Blue Hill, Maine, asks: "Mr. President, if it were discovered that you 'won' the 2004 election through election fraud and manipulation of the vote count, would you step down from the presidency?" A reader who prefers to remain anonymous -- and we can't imagine why -- would mention the president's appointments of Paul Wolfowitz, Karen Hughes, Condoleezza Rice and John Bolton to positions involving diplomacy and ask: "What exactly is your message to the rest of the world? Is it 'Fuck you,' 'Go fuck yourselves,' 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn,' or 'Bend over and spread wide'?"
Which leads straight to the many questions readers would raise about the president's personal life. Dan from Pennsylvania asks, "Are you and Condi having an affair?" Brandon Worth wants to know, "What were you doing at 'Splash Day,' and whom were you there with?" Heather Page of Austin, Tex., asks, "Does the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia have soft hands?" And a fellow named Kip wants to know, "Where does Jeff Gannon take his dry cleaning?"
And it's always nice to finish a press conference with a big-picture query that wraps it all up in a bow. Ricardo Vargas of Boise has one: "Do you feel that you are the worst president in the history of the United States?" And Buddy from Virginia would speak for a lot of readers if he had the chance to ask, "Why won't you please just go away?"
After a press conference like this one, we're betting the feeling would be mutual.