Bush Can't Make A Joke Without WashPost Lamenting Rude 'Canned Crack'
President Bush visited a Micron Technology factory in Manassas, Virginia on Wednesday, about 35 miles from the White House. The Washington Post wouldn't have found much use to cover the visit -- unless there was something embarrassing. The caption on the front of the Thursday Prince William Extra section had it: "Bush made a canned crack about potholes in Manassas, despite arriving by helicopter at the Micron campus."
Bush joked with the mayor of Manassas about fixing the potholes, a throw-away gibe. But reporter Christy Goodman spent a good chunk of her article on the Micron visit focused on Bush's rude "canned wisecrack." The mayor told the Post he wanted to tell Bush "we don't have potholes in Manassas." Baloney. I live about a mile west of the Micron plant, and a year or two ago, I lost a tire due to a pothole near that factory at the intersection of Wellington Road and Godwin Drive (pothole since fixed). Here's how Goodman chronicled Bush's insensitivity:
And he acknowledged a few dignitaries in the audience for their work, including Manassas Mayor Douglas S. Waldron (R).
Then he told Waldron, "Just fill the potholes. That is all I can say."
The night before, Waldron had mentioned that he, Bush and former president George H.W. Bush are Yale alums. Waldron said he had met the president and his father during one of their visits to the university. "I hope to have a moment to have a brief conversation" with him, Waldron said.
What he got first was a canned wisecrack from the president.
"I had to resist the urge to raise my hand and interrupt the president and say, 'Mr. President, we don't have potholes in Manassas,' " Waldron said later Tuesday afternoon.
City Manager Lawrence D. Hughes agreed.
"I spent millions of dollars making sure we don't" have axle-jarring holes in city streets, Hughes said. "And it was local money. No federal money goes into potholes."
The city's street maintenance crews were out as recently as Monday fixing four potholes, said Russ Graham, Manassas's superintendent of streets. [So much for "we don't have potholes in Manassas." Russ Graham is no relation.] Graham was at Micron Tuesday morning when the president arrived but was unable to hear Bush's speech. He had been helping the Secret Service and local police move concrete barriers around the Micron campus to limit access on the parking lots and create makeshift helipads in an area where contractors normally park.
"He came in by helicopter. He's got good eyes if he saw a pothole," Graham said. Unless the weather keeps his crew from filling the road craters, "If we know of any, we fix them," he said.
After the president finished selling the $2.9 trillion budget he presented to Congress on Monday, he made sure to reach out and shake as many employees' and other guests' hands as possible.
One of those hands belonged to the mayor. Waldron got his brief conversation.
"He hoped I didn't mind the crack about the potholes. I told him the two things we need to get right are trash and elections. He appreciated that," Waldron said. "Truly it was an honor that President Bush would visit the city of Manassas and Micron."
At least Goodman noted Bush was also self-deprecating on the tour. Just before the long pothole passage, Goodman reported:
Bush toured Micron Technology's $3 billion microchip plant before speaking to about 200 of the company's employees. He thanked his guide for explaining "all the big machines." After allowing for a few chuckles, he said, "I played like I understood."