July 10, 2003


Peter FitzSimons imagines the following scene:

So anyway, trailed by the ubiquitous cameras of the White House press corps, President George Bush goes to a primary school in Texas to have a "photo-op" chat to the children about this and that and nothing in particular. When he is done, one little boy at the back of the room puts up his hand to ask a question.

"And what is your name, young man?" Dubya asks him.


"And what is your question, Billy?"

"I have three questions. First, why are you president when Al Gore got more votes? Second, what is the connection between Iraq and September 11? And third, where are these weapons of mass destruction, anyway?"

Send your answers here. As you consider the abundance of possible responses, please enjoy some earlier FitzSimons items.

UPDATE. As several commenters point out, FitzSimons didn't imagine this at all. He simply recycled a lame Hillary Clinton internet gag. Sad.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 10, 2003 04:24 AM

Of course, little Billy could well ask Mr. Fitzsimons some questions, too.

1) Despite all the evidence of Saddam's tyrannical abuse of the Iraqi people, why are you still more worried about trivia?

2) When, as happens fairly frequently, some supposed statement of fact by you is proven wrong or some wild-assed prediction of yours totally fails to pan out will you admit your mistakes? (P.S. I'm only 11. Will it be in my lifetime?)

3) If only people who think like you are ever right or care about humanity, what sort of government would you propose to keep those idiots on the other side from the controls? Stalinism? PolPotism? Ba'athist rule by your and your like-thinking cohort? Just kill them all?

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at July 10, 2003 at 05:34 AM

"Well, sheeee-oot, Billy. Them's some mighty fine questions. Lessee, here...

First off, ah'm President becuase, in the United States, as spelled out in the Constitution, we use the Electoral College, not the popular vote to elect the Preseident. Consequently, Big Al's popular vote count don' mean diddly-squat. You might want to ask that guy why he felt the need to try and take away the votes of thousands of men & women in uniform, though...

Hmm. Secondly, I guess I should explain something about the WMD. See, Billy, there's this thing called "National Security". I know those'r big words, and, given the fact that Michael Moore says I'm a big stupid head, I have trouble with 'em, too. Here's the thing 'bout that National Security, though...Condi Rice told me that it means that, despite the protestations of fifth graders, I don't have to tell you everything that we know about a given strategic situation. Given that fact, it's safe to say that you don't know what I do, and, until you do, I'd have to ask to to sit down, shut up, and try and keep Helen Thomas entertained. On a side note, Billy, does your dad keep a gas centrifuge buried under your roses back home? Just wonderin'...

Lastly, Billy...ah know that there's lotsa folks who think that there's no connection between Iraq, and the attacks of September 11. Here's the thing about that, though...terrorism is terrorism. Ah don't know about you, but ah'd say that keeping hundred of kids like you in jail, and executing thousands more is a kind of terrorism. How 'bout you?

Oh yeah...one last thing. Y'know that Iraqi guy who the Czechs said met with Mohammed Atta before the attacks? Well, coincidentally, we just arrested 'im. Ah'm sure its just so Ashcroft and Rumsfeld can have some fun by taking away constitutional rights that he never had in the first place, though. Nothing more to it.

Thanks for your question, though."

Posted by: Jared at July 10, 2003 at 05:52 AM

Fitzsimmons? Who dat?

(What - no DNS lookups, Tim?)

Posted by: mojo at July 10, 2003 at 06:22 AM

Oh God, how lame. This was originally an anti-Hillary joke. Tim, it all fits with your contention that the Left is incapable of humour (unless it's ripped off from someone else).

Posted by: David Gillies at July 10, 2003 at 06:43 AM

The first answer is because the Constitution says so, just like it did for Presidents John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison. Similarly, Presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe won election without winning the popular vote at all, because the states at that time used their privilege to assign electors directly. And then there are Presidents Zachary Taylor, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, who all became President despite the fact that they won only a minority of the popular vote. Oh, and Rutherford B. Hayes, who lost the popular vote and became President by a partisan vote of a Congressionally-appointed electoral comission's awarding of the disputed electoral votes of, among other states, Florida.

Second, there is no direct connection between Iraq and Septemeber 11th, and my Administration did not and does not claim there was. Similarly, there was no direct connection between the Petain-led French government in Morocco and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. However, the Guardian has published stories documenting how Saddam Hussein repeatedly made overtures to Osama bin Laden, offering him money, bases, and support, both before and after September 11th. Saddam Hussein repeatedly tried to ally himself to Al Qaeda, and it would have been foolish for the U.S. to rely on Osama bin Laden's reluctance to take him up on the repeated offers.

On the third, well, we're not sure. But the Germans said in 2002 that he was three years from having the ability to hit Europe with an atomic bomb, and the French in 2003 said he had WMDs. We trust that the Scroder and Chirac governments were not lying when they made those claims. If it turns out they did lie, well, at least Iraqis aren't being fed into industrial shredders by Saddam Hussein anymore.

Posted by: Warmongering Lunatic at July 10, 2003 at 06:53 AM

That whole bit of dialogue looked familiar, so I did a Google search using some of the key words. It's been knocking around the internet for some time. The following is the earliest version I found:

Search Result 5 From: B.O. Plenty Subject: Hillary Clinton goes to a primary school This is the only article in this thread View: Original Format Newsgroups: misc.survivalism Date: 2003-05-16 20:26:53 PST

Hillary Clinton goes to a primary school to talk about the world.
her talk she offers question time. One little boy puts up his hand
the Senator asks him what his name is.

"Billy," he answers.

"And what is your question, Billy?" she asks.

"I have three questions, ma'am. First - whatever happened to your
medical health care plan; second - why would you run for President
your husband shamed the office; and third - whatever happened to all
those things you took when you left the White House?"

Just then, the bell rings for recess. Hillary Clinton informs the
kiddies that they will continue after recess.

When they resume Hillary says, "Okay where were we? Oh, that's
question time. Who has a question?"

A different little boy puts his hand up; Hillary points him out and
asks him what his name is.

"Steve," he answers.

"And what is your question, Steve?" the Senator asks.

"I actually have five questions, ma'am. First - whatever happened
your medical health care plan; second - why would you run for
after your husband shamed the office; third - whatever happened to
those things you took when you left the White House; fourth - why
the bell ring 20 minutes early; and fifth - what happened to Billy?"

It would appear the Mr. FitzSimons or someone took, ah, liberties with the original.

Posted by: Ernie G at July 10, 2003 at 07:08 AM

Does FitzSimmons often fantasize about putting things in the mouths of little boys?

Posted by: FeloniousPunk at July 10, 2003 at 07:36 AM

Fourth, why does a journalist with a major newpaper try to make a point using an elementary school?

Because journalists write from their own perspective.

Posted by: Wallace at July 10, 2003 at 07:45 AM

Here's what I sent him....

Per Tim Blair's helpful suggestion, here are some answers to your basic questions to the President of the United States. (all of which are good, by the way...)

Question #1: Why are you president when Al Gore got more votes?

Answer #1: This is actually a fairly easy one. Under the US Constitution, Presidents are not elected by direct vote, but through a body called the Electoral College. The Electors are apportioned to the Electoral College by state, each of which has a number of Electoral Votes proportional to its representation in the House of Representatives, which is based on population. For example, heavily populated California may have 33 electoral votes while almost empty Wyoming has but 1 or 2. The Presidential election, therefore, is a state-by-state race and not a national election. The person who wins enough individual states to put his or her electoral vote over the amount required to win becomes President. The national popular vote is not even officially tallied. It is, in fact, reported by compiling the vote gained on a per state basis. Three times in our nation's history this state-centered system has produced a chief executive who won enough states, but lost the popular vote, George W. Bush being the last. See? Easy-peasy? When one claims that Al Gore "got more votes" one only displays a basic ignorance of the rules of that vote. Although, it must be said, one shared by Al Gore himself.

Question # 2: What is the connection between Iraq and September 11?

Answer #2: Another easy one. The connection is this: in the world of American national security judgment, strategy and planning prior to 9/11, terrorist sponsoring and enabling states were seen as threats to national security insofar as they hindered larger American political goals. Terrorist states were viewed as problematic, but controllable nations who could be hemmed in my international organizations, law enforcement and sanctions.

After 9/11, the fundamental decision was made, and is widely shared by most Americans of differing political stripes, that this approach will no longer suffice. Once it became clear that there was a committed ideological group ready, willing and able to deliver weapons of mass destruction in the US itself, tolerance for any state that harbored known terrorists, sponsored known terrorists and used weapons of mass destruction in senseless wars of aggression became unacceptable because of the risk of the state and a group like AlQueda uniting in common cause against a common enemy. It is now our official position that a person who has a gun, loads the gun and tells us we are his enemy will be killed before they get to fire that shot. The connection between Iraq and 9/11 is thus not direct involvement but a capacity and willingness to enable such involvement at a catastrophic level. You may disagree with this judgment (and that's all it is), but, in the final analysis, neither I nor many other Americans are going to risk Chicago to find out if you're right. War was made on us in a particular method, so we are now destroying sponsors of the method in the same way that a ruthless gang murder in a big city may make the big city authorities crack down on all gangs regardless of this or that particular gang's involvement in that particular murder.

Question # 3: Where are these weapons of mass destruction, anyway?

Answer # 3: Easiest one of all to answer. First, however, I suggest you also ask the French, German, Russian, Mexican, Chilean and Syrian delegations to the United Nations, and Hans Blix, since they all certified in UN resolutions that Iraq had a WMD program and had produced WMD. In fact, former government officials in Iraq could say the same thing, since they admitted as much in declarations to the UN.

As for the substance, the answer is we don't yet know but we will find out what's there besides the nuclear weapons producing materials found under an Iraqi government scientists house. But we do know one place where they *won't* be and that is somewhere ready to be put to use against the United States or one of our allies.

And, in the final analysis, that's all that matters.

Hope that you find this primer helpful. Sincerely,

Kevin A Vaillancourt
Portland, Oregon

Posted by: KevinV at July 10, 2003 at 07:51 AM

Package these up as letters to the editor.

If they get a flood they may print some.


Posted by: luis alegria at July 10, 2003 at 08:26 AM

On July 8, 2003, the Detroit Tigers played the Chicago White Sox in a game of baseball.

The White Sox hit the ball 9 times, but the Tigers only hit the ball 5 times. How come the Tigers won?

Because hits don't win the game. Runs do. And both teams know this going into the game. If hits won the game, the White Sox would have played very differently.

Posted by: buzz harsher at July 10, 2003 at 08:40 AM

At least at that age they have somewhat of an excuse for not being familiar with the constitution. Fitz is a grown man and he doesn't know, yet he considers himself informed enough to gripe about it.

Natural selection has stopped working...:^(

Posted by: b psycho at July 10, 2003 at 09:23 AM

I have to say, without sounding (I hope) like too much of a sycophant, that these replies have been terrific in every respect. Thanks for the time you all put into them!

Posted by: RJGator at July 10, 2003 at 10:27 AM

The script reads as if the boy had been primed to ask those questions.By whom, leftoid teachers, parents or both in collusion?

Posted by: d at July 10, 2003 at 10:37 AM

1. Well Billy, a secret cabal of neo-conservatives named George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison cooked up this scheme called the electoral college so's I could steal the election.

2. Billy, you little yard monkey, our war against terrorism ain't just about retaliating for the last terrorist attack but is also about preventing the next one.

3. Well since even I ain't dumb enough to believe that Saddam kicked the UN inspectors out in 1998 so he could disarm in secret, I'm guessing they'll turn up. We've already found some illegal nuclear weapons components buried under a rose bush and I figure more scientists will come forward once they know for sure that Saddam ain't going to come back and feed them feet first through a shredder.

Now get the hell out of here, Billy, and don't believe everything you read in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Posted by: Randy R. at July 10, 2003 at 11:19 AM

That's pretty good memorization there Billy.

First, you don't win the presidency by having the most number of votes. This may seem complex to a 6 year old, but as you grow older you'll learn more on how voting works in America.

Second, there is hardly any connection between Iraq and September 11th.

Third, nobody knows. At least, the people who do are not announcing it to the world. Every country that had an intelligence agency knew about Saddams weapons. Yet when we get there, everything, and we mean EVERYTHING has mysteriously vanished. You know how big Iraq is Billy? It's the size of California. It could take a hundred years to find them, we may never find them.

Posted by: ErikZ at July 10, 2003 at 11:36 AM

It's weird that when lefty journalists run out of, well, actual news to impart, they invariably fall back on the old "left-leaning wisdom from the mouths of innocent widdle children" caper.

The reason this is weird is because all the children I've met are somewhere to the right of Pauline Hanson. They have a very firm grasp of the rights of the individual and the ownership of property. It's no accident that the concept of "sharing" has to be beaten into them, along with all the other caveats, contradictions and moral relativisms of the modern Left.

Thus Peter FitzSimons is a poopyhead.

Posted by: Andrew D. at July 10, 2003 at 01:14 PM

I was wondering, is a left-winger in Austalia a right-winger in the U.S.?

Cuz, you know, the coriolis effect, and stuff?

Posted by: John at July 10, 2003 at 01:48 PM

three questions for billy:

who primed you?
how much were you payed?
does her name rhyme with millary blinton?

Posted by: Samkit at July 10, 2003 at 01:50 PM

It's typical of Fitzsimons to recycle this old urban myth. He's a clapped-out old hack without any capacity for original thought. It comes from being kicked in the head too many times in rugby rucks. Stick to the sports pages, Peter. Politics is for the big boys.

Posted by: Rob at July 10, 2003 at 01:53 PM

Good questions, Billy. The truth is, I'm sorry to say, that just like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, good and honest Republican presidents don't exist.

They did once, back a long time ago, but now they're just a myth, a fairy tale the American people need to believe in so they can go about their pathetic little consumer-driven lives without having to ask themselves such hard questions.

See, Billy, the American people might be stupid, but they are not so stupid as to let us invade a country with no real reason. I give them credit for that. But they sure as hell ain't smart enough to know what is a real reason for going to war, and what are lies (Niger, 45 minutes, Al Qaeda, etc, etc.) and half-truths, just as long as you make sure they hear the lies and half-truths enough times until they believe them. A weak, corporate-run media should see to that.

You're right, I do feel guilty about having to get Daddy's friends screw some judges to get me elected the first time. And sure, I'm damned worried I won't be elected a second time, especially with the country going to the dogs.

That's why I have what we like to call strat-e-gy. I'm not smart, Billy, but my advisers are, and they keep quoting some very smart people.

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins."

That was a very wise man called H.L. Mencken. But one thing we all stand by was said by a very smart man, Billy, Hermann Goering, the leader of a very powerful party in Europe. Some people called them Nasties, but we think that's very rude and unfair.

He said:

"The people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism."

One thing we conservatives have got going for us Billy, is that we believe that if something worked once, it'll work again.

Posted by: Jack O'Farrell at July 10, 2003 at 03:11 PM

Jack O'Farrell = Peter FitzSimons

Posted by: alby at July 10, 2003 at 03:50 PM

No, Alby, Peter wouldn't know who H L Mencken was. Probably wouldn't know Goering either. He's not that bright.

Posted by: Rob at July 10, 2003 at 04:02 PM

Here, here, Mr O'Farrell. That'll sock it to Tim and his shock troops.

Posted by: Some Bright Spark at July 10, 2003 at 04:47 PM

Hi there,

Here's a few quick thoughts:

Posted by: Skev at July 10, 2003 at 05:39 PM