His lips almost moving

· long story short

Back in the 2000 primaries, one of Bush’s trademarks was his ability to deliver an entire speech without once accidentally making eye contact. These cautious, close manuscript readings came in striking contrast to Bill Clinton’s free-wheeling, sometimes seemingly improvised shtick.
Around the time of the Republican convention, something changed. Bush began to look up from his podium, to read long, elegant speeches as if committed to memory. How could this be? New smart drugs, stolen from Pentagon labs? Kevin Trudeau’s Mega Memory?
I have an alternate theory.
Listening to President Bush speak at the UN this morning, I was struck by the long, frequent pauses in his delivery. Not just at the ends of sentences, or in the spots where commas might normally rest. But after just about every short burst of words. For example:
“The success of a free Iraq [pause, pause, pause] will be watched and noted throughout the region.”
Or in his closing lines:
“…both [the founding documents of the US and UN] point the way to peace [pause, pause, pause], the peace that comes [pause, pause, pause] when all are free [pause, pause]. We secure that peace with our courage, [pause, pause, pause] and we must show that courage [pause, pause, pause] together.”
What is that? Drama? I don’t know. Pause once, that’s drama. But “pause, pause, pause”? It’s more like he’s falling asleep and then waking up again and then falling back asleep. Or perhaps that was me.
Watching Bush’s face during these long pauses, his lips almost moving, his pupils slightly dilated, it seems clear that the President was listening. Carefully. To a miniature Bill Kristol, perhaps no bigger than an eraser or the head of Q-Tip, sitting on a tiny barrel somewhere in the President’s head, script in hands, leading the President through the day’s speech, line by line by line.
I’m not saying this is bad. And I’m not saying this is wrong. I’m just saying: There’s a tiny little Bill Kristol embedded in George Bush’s skull. And may God [pause, pause] have mercy [pause, pause] on our souls.