It was one of the most memorable scenes in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11: President George W. Bush in that Florida classroom listening to second-graders read about a pet goat after hearing that America was "under attack."
Those images can be seen at the Memory Hole.
Last week, as a single-engine Cessna sent Washington into a massive security alert -- with fighter jets scambled over the capital and 30,000 people, including Vice President Dick "Bunker'' Cheney and First Laura Bush, evacuated -- the president was clueless in Maryland, biking through a wildlife centre.
This time out at least, the White House press corps asked pressing questions about the commander-in-chief being out of the loop.
Not that reporters got very far with White House spinmeister Scott McClellan, but it's fun to see his wheels go round and round, and to see the journalists yanking his chain.
Here's an excerpt:
Q: Scott, yesterday the White House was on red alert, was evacuated. The first lady and Nancy Reagan were taken to a secure location. The Vice President was evacuated from the grounds. The Capitol building was evacuated. The continuity of government plan was initiated. And yet the president wasn't told of yesterday's events until after he finished his bike ride, about 36 minutes after the all-clear had been sent. Is he satisfied with the fact that he wasn't notified about this?
McCLELLAN: Yes. I think you just brought up a very good point -- the protocols that were in place after Sept. 11 were followed. The president was never considered to be in danger because he was at an off-site location. The president has a tremendous amount of trust in his Secret Service detail. ...
Q: The fact that the president wasn't in danger is one aspect of this. But he's also the commander in chief. There was a military operation underway. Other people were in contact with the White House. Shouldn't the commander in chief have been notified of what was going on?
McCLELLAN: John, the protocols that we put in place after Sept. 11 were being followed. They did not require presidential authority for this situation. I think you have to look at each situation and the circumstances surrounding the situation. And that's what officials here at the White House were doing. ...
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