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In my lifetime, I can remember a number of U.S. presidents who actually conducted press conferences, many on a regular basis. This give-and-take process helped the chief executive establish a unique rapport with the print and television media as well as presenting a means of communications to the American public. And it opened a window to all of us concerning the personality and leadership qualities of this most important statesman.

But at the present time, it seems we have elected a president who is a onedimensional man and who hides behind safe audiences, tired slogans and vague talking points. He so often lets his rather ineffectual press secretary release predictable information or nondebatable statements.

Last week, President Bush's "Plan for Victory" speech was nearly a rehash of his same tired argument that everything's going just fine. And either you follow his Iraq policy or you're a "cutandrun" coward.

Furthermore, this president is willing to send brave men and women to die for our country. I guess he lacks the courage to stand before any crowd that might include people who disagree with him. Bush seems to only enjoy speaking before safe gatherings such as servicemen, Republican Party fundraisers and carefully screened groups. How can our chief executive continue to "spin" the same message in these hyped-up venues of limited access. He is truly squandering what little chance he has to redeem his second-term presidency.

If President Bush truly believes in his policies, he should be willing to defend them against fellow citizens who have questions or perhaps even disagree.

Larry Studt

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