In all, 141 of the words used by Gonzales (or his proxy) were gratuitous, banal, and empty. When Daniel of Los Angeles asks a question, Gonzales’ reply begins with these stilted words: “I appreciate your question, Daniel, as you raise an important point that I would like to clarify.” Every one of the other answers that Gonzales gave opened with similar gratuitous mush. For example:
“That's an important question, Marc.”Yes, timely. Obviously timely.
“I appreciate that question, Joel.”
“Tom, your question is obviously a timely one.”
Sean of Michigan wrote that the NSA eavesdropping program was “not by any means affecting the typical American[,] right?” Gonzales’ response began, “Sean, thanks for your question. I'm glad you asked this question – it is a very important question about an issue that has a lot of people confused …” This is the verbal equivalent of the four-corners offense that basketball coaches used to employ as a way of stalling.
On the one hand, Gonzales insisted that the NSA effort is “focused on international calls of individuals linked to al Qaeda ...” On the other hand, the best assurance that the attorney general could offer was that “it is overwhelmingly unlikely that the terrorist surveillance program would ever affect an ordinary American.”
So if Sean waded through the first 27 sugar-coated words of Gonzales’ response, he probably would not have been fully reassured by Gonzales’ reply.
The attorney general closed “Ask the White House” with this syrupy prose:
Thank you very much for these probing and insightful questions. I'm gratified to have had the opportunity to share my views, and I wish you all well.If I followed the Gonzales template for human interaction, someone who asked me outside my office building, “Excuse me, do you have the time?” would receive the following response:
"Ma’am, that’s an important question as time governs so many of our daily activities. It is currently 10 minutes to 9. Thank you again for offering me the opportunity to share my views."