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WP: TV Viewers Offered Choice: 'Fear Factor' or Bush

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diamond14 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 07:23 AM
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WP: TV Viewers Offered Choice: 'Fear Factor' or Bush
Edited on Tue May-25-04 07:33 AM by amen1234

TV Viewers Offered Choice: 'Fear Factor' or Bush

By Tom Shales
Tuesday, May 25, 2004; Page C01

Old Blue Tie was back, but not exactly in top form. The official topic of George W. Bush's speech last night was his grand plan for rebuilding Iraq, but the address may have been prompted more by a political crisis than by foreign policy: A new poll showed Bush receiving his lowest public approval rating ever for his handling of the war he started.

It is doubtful Bush changed millions of minds with last night's speech, which was delivered in the extremely friendly surroundings of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., but without much energy or urgency. Bush didn't look terribly convinced by his own argument that the situation in Iraq is improving, nor did he appear all that thrilled by his five-point plan to bring about "Iraqi freedom" in the future.

And so the tattered old NBC peacock turned its back on the president to offer two episodes of its ultimate dumb-downer, "Fear Factor," the program on which women in bikinis eat worms. ABC, meanwhile, ignored the president for "A Beautiful Mind" -- that is, the film of that title, getting its network debut.

While Bush's oratorical prowess has never been awe-inspiring -- he's inferior even to his father as a galvanizer -- he has still, to a large degree, mastered the basics of TV speechmaking -- short, punchy sentences for the most part, with clarity given precedence over emotional eloquence. Last night's speech was clear enough but also dry and dispirited. Not even the military audience gave the impression of being enraptured, and the speech was interrupted only a few times for applause -- once when Bush praised the work of the coalition troops, mostly American, once when he said "terrorists will not determine the future of Iraq," and so on.

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