In his first six years in office, the president has made little mention of Thanksgiving, beyond the ceremonial turkey pardons, but yesterday Bush traveled to Charles City, Virginia, for his first speech devoted specifically to the holiday. “[O]ur nation’s greatest strength is the decency and compassion of our people,” he said. “As we count our many blessings, I encourage all Americans to show their thanks by giving back.”
The problem, in this case, wasn’t with the president’s inoffensive message, but rather with his audience.
You might think that a presidential speech on Thanksgiving would be open to all comers. But no, even when President Bush is talking about something as uncontroversial and inclusive as the essential goodness of our country, he wants his audience prescreened for obsequiousness.
Bush traveled to the historic Berkeley Plantation in southeastern Virginia yesterday for an event carefully calibrated to emphasize his compassionate side. In his remarks, he encouraged “all Americans to show their thanks by giving back.”
But, as usual, he wasn’t talking to all Americans. At least not in person. Admission to the event was tightly controlled by White House and Republican party officials.
Tyler Whitley and Mark Bowes write in the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “President Bush found something to be thankful for yesterday — a friendly, invitation-only Virginia audience. . . . “‘We love you!’ one woman yelled as Bush prepared to deliver a 16-minute Thanksgiving message to a standing-room-only crowd of about 800 people standing at Berkeley under a tent facing the James River.
Yes, it appears Bush can’t even wish Americans a happy Thanksgiving without the comfort of his ever-present Bubble.