Coaching Condi and George on Testifying before the 911 Commission
by Rob Kall
A guide to testifying under oath and not-under-oath (free to lie.)
Here's what the week-long coaching sessions of Condi Rice, at tax-payer expense, must have looked like, and what coaching of George Bush, while he's supposedly on vacation in Crawford, must contain.
Rules for testifying:
Sandbagging 101: Take as long as you possibly can to answer each question. While the Republicans on the commission will cake-walk you through the hearing, the Democrats will actually ask some tough questions. They'll have a time limit, so if you give excess background, pause to smile, banter with each of the commissioners, you'll be able to cut their opportunity so they can only ask two or three questions. If you do your job right, they'll accuse you of filibustering.
Blame the CIA: Tenet has already fallen on the sword for our Uranium screw-up. We've already invested a fortune in spin-time and Drudge, Fox, Limbaugh and the other ditto-heads backing it up. Use it. Blame Tennet and then get academic, go into smoke and fog blaming it on "Structural problems." That'll kill more time and satisfy about 80 percent of our core supporters.
Go Academic: The more academic you go, the less people will listen, the lower the ratings will be, and the less likely the media will be to cover further hearings, including the Dick and George show coming up. Talk about history and pretend you are lecturing graduate students who have already paid their tuition and have to pay attention, since they will be tested.
Self Righteous Interruption: Our Fundamentalist Christian Supporters have fine tuned this art. Politely, but self righteously insist on the courtesy to allow you to finish your thought... then start another one, especially if it seems that the questioning commissioner is starting to ask a new question.
Beating around the Bush: Don't answer the questions they pose. Re-frame them in your own terms. Throw in peripheral "background" to preface your answers and to re-focus them away from the issues.
Don't talk about Clarke. We've already done our Shock and Awe damage to him and remember, you are under oath. George might just curl into a fetal position if he didn't have you to explain the news. Besides, we don't want to give Clarke any more air time than he's already received.
Smile Pretty: Soften Your Image. Get rid of that frown on your forehead. You have an 11 embossed there. Pretend you are sweet and gentle. We know you have more testosterone than Cheney or Rumsfeld, but hide it. We want you to represent us as compassionate, since that part of our image needs some dusting off. But avoid perky, there are 911 widows present and they don't like perkiness when discussing defense. Trust the Paxil. Your serotonin level will be finely tuned by then. Bottom line, if you can't get rid of those 11s soon, we're going to have to hit them with Botox.
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First rule, don't talk: It's fine to say hi, crack jokes, make funny remarks. But Dick is there to do the talking. That's the unstated core of the agreement Alberto Gonzalez crafted as part of the Condi deal.
Deny Whatever: remember, you are not under oath. Lie your ass off if it feels right.
Ignore the questions: Talk about the evil-doers and evil empires. Talk about Condi and George Tenet and tax breaks.
Don't Look at Dick: He'll be there, ready to save your butt, to answer any tough questions. If you have any doubt, just hesitate a moment and he'll be there to fill the dead air.
Respect Dick's Interruptions: If you hear Dick start talking, just shut up. It probably means you're talking when you shouldn't be, or worse, actually answering a question. Between you and Dick you ought to be able to avoid answering almost all the questions.
Don't Talk When the Democrats Ask Questions: Oh, you can say hi, crack a joke or two, tell a yarn about the ranch. Actually, see if you can cut into half their allotted time with that kind of banter. But once they start to ask questions, just sit back and let Dick do his job.
Talk Fast: If you absolutely get nailed to the wall and have to talk, in other words, if they tell Dick to shut up, then talk really fast so the aide we allowed in the room can't possibly transcribe your words accurately.
Remember to Forget: If a line of questioning starts to seem like it's going to strike a vein of nasty dirt, lose your memory. Repeat after me. "I don't remember."