The Blind Leading the Blind
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Peter. Are you going to ask that question with shades on?It turns out that Wallsten suffers from a rare form of macular degeneration and is legally blind. Oops.
Q: I can take them off.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm interested in the shade look, seriously.
Q: All right, I'll keep it, then.
THE PRESIDENT: For the viewers, there's no sun. (Laughter.)
Q: I guess it depends on your perspective. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Touché. (Laughter.)
It should be noted that Bush was not aware of Wallsten's condition, but when he found out later, the President called the reporter and gamely apologized, telling him, "I needle you guys out of affection." Wallsten, ever the good sport, brushed it off and told Bush to "needle away." Bush agreed and said, "next time I'll just use a different needle."
Such love and affection between Bush and the press corps! If Helen Thomas would just divulge her Tourette's diagnosis, everything would be wonderful. Wallsten did manage to get the last laugh, however. He said he appreciated the joke, and "his only complaint is that the president didn't answer his question at the news conference." Ah, the more things change...
It was certainly an embarrassing moment for the President, but he didn't really do anything wrong. I guess he can just be thankful that Wallsten couldn't see him blush.