WASHINGTON, DC?Responding to recent polls suggesting that he has lost touch with the average American, President Bush vowed Monday to pay closer attention to the needs of non-presidents.
"Perhaps, in the past, I've been somewhat lax in addressing the day-to-day problems of the nation's non-presidents," Bush said during a White House press conference. "Well, that's about to change. I hereby pledge to hear and heed the concerns of non-chief- executives?a group of people who are very valuable to our country, in their own way, even if it's not always readily apparent how."
Bush has charged his staff of 50 with the task of helping him learn more about the nation's many non-commanders-in-chief.
"From here on out, I will do my best to address the needs of this group of upstanding Americans who, I'm told, are part of a proud non-presidential tradition that stretches back hundreds of years in this country," Bush said. "To this end, I have appointed a blue-ribbon fact-finding committee to look into the issues of non-presidents and find out what their jets are named, how their staffs are performing, and how they're handling increased pressure from the media during this election year."
Of particular concern to Bush are the ways in which the sluggish economy is affecting the average non-head-of-state. He said he's curious to know how non-presidents are responding to the rising costs of television-campaign ads, whether their donations from special-interest groups have dropped in number, and how much money they are able to set aside for foreign invasions.
"I want to live in a country where all citizens?presidents or not?can pursue their own policy initiatives abroad, even if they suffer from a lack of funding," Bush said. "In addition, Americans shouldn't have to go without the crucial tax cuts they've promised their political supporters, just because there's a mounting federal deficit. We must find a way for every citizen to afford the fundamentals of daily life: an adequate entourage of Secret Service personnel, limousine rides to and from fundraisers, and the political leverage to send legislation through Congress."
Bush said he will reach out to non-presidents with great care in the coming months?finding out how their oil wells are doing, how the major-league sports teams they own are weathering the market, and which Ivy League secret societies they belong to. He said he will also carefully read any policy papers they've had their staffs draft recently and review any recent press announcements they've made or leaked.
"There is only one way to win over the hearts, minds, and votes of our nation's non-presidents?a group which, I've learned, is larger than I had previous reason to believe?and that's to ask questions," Bush said. "Is security tight enough at their military retreats? Do they have adequate support from their friends in the private sector? Are the global petrochemical companies that back them doing a good job of adhering to government guidelines regarding their campaign contributions? Do they and their households have access to high-quality spin control? If not, I'd like to help non-presidents and their families get the help they need."
Bush said he's so committed to learning more about non-presidents that he has scheduled a fact-finding visit to the home of one such non-president next month.
"In June, I'll be visiting my parents in Texas to discuss these issues," Bush said. "As it turns out, my father is one of these non-presidents. I didn't realize that before, because people still call him 'Mr. President' wherever he goes, but as it happens, he's actually been a non-president for years."
"It just goes to show that, when it comes to non-presidents, I still have a lot to learn," Bush added.
In closing, the president said he has great respect for the many hardworking non-presidents he sees on a daily basis, including those who serve his meals, schedule his phone calls, and carry his shoes.
Added Bush: "You know, some of my best friends?including [Secretary Of Defense] Donald Rumsfeld, [National Security Advisor] Condoleezza Rice, and [Vice-President] Dick Cheney?are non-presidents."