BUSH'S PRESS CONFERENCE: THE NOT-SO-INSTANT ANAYSIS
(I was in my car!)
And since I was in my car, looks like I missed Dubya's magic necktie
, apparently on loan from the Emerald City, in the land of Oz.
Here is the transcript
. I'm just going to note a couple things I recall that stayed in my memory long after the broadcast ended...
--I would note that the NYT transcript is missing some of these: "[LONG PAUSE]"
--Bush's babbling answer to the "did you make a mistake" question seemed to indicate that either he doesn't think he made any mistakes in the War on Terror, or that he doesn't want us to think that he made any mistakes (or that he doesn't want us to think that he thinks he made any mistakes, etc). I mean, he could have talked about the disbanding of the Iraqi army after Bremer took over if he wanted, but of course, Bush is busy trying to perserve the image that he and his administration neither makes mistakes nor is responsible for those that occur. Is this one believing one's own hype? That would fit in with Saletan's thesis here
--When the WMD issue did come up, Bush made some creative use of the word "thing" as a substitute for actual items:
I thought it was very interesting that Charlie Duelfer who just came back -- he's the head of the Iraqi Survey Group -- reported some interesting findings from his recent tour there. And one of the things was he was amazed at how deceptive the Iraqis had been toward Unmovic and Unscom, deceptive at hiding things. We knew they were hiding things. A country that hides something is a country that is afraid of getting caught. And that was part of our calculation. Charlie confirmed that. He also confirmed that Saddam had a -- the ability to produce biological and chemical weapons. In other words, he was a danger. He had long-range missiles that were undeclared to the United Nations. He was a danger. And so we dealt with him.
Wait, he had long-missiles that Unmovic found and dismantled. At the time, the Bush administration claimed that their allowing those Al Samoud missiles to be destroyed by Blix and his team was "what they were going to do all along" and "didn't prove they were cooperating", or words to that effect. It's hard to be a danger when UN inspectors are destroying your long-range missiles. Interesting that Bush mentions the only weapons we have any proof of existing as a centerpiece for his being a danger; ones that were destroyed by inspectors. But I digress...
George, "hiding things"? When we say that, are we helping the credibility of the United States on the WMD issue? More than a year after the invasion, all you can say is "hiding things"? Remembering that parts of the Kay report trumpeted by Bush were papers with drawings on them and small centrifuge parts buried in a backyard for over a decade, we have to wonder what "things" means.
Think about it logically: At the State of the Union, Bush said "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities." Now he says "things". Therefore, this can only mean that the "things" cited by Bush do not even qualify as "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities." So in other words, "nothing".
On Easter, George Bush hosted the annual White House egg hunt. The eggs were hidden, to be found by children. George Bush was "hiding things". See? Guess it's time for regime change!
--And has GMEI been brought back? Bush brings it up, but with a twist:
That's why I'm pressing the Greater Middle East reform initiative, to work to spread freedom. And we will continue on that. So long as I'm the president, I will press for freedom. I believe so strongly in the power of freedom. You know why I do? Because I've seen freedom work right here in our own country. I also have this belief, strong belief that freedom is not this country's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world.
And as the greatest power on the face of the earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. We have an obligation to help feed the hungry. I think the American people find it interesting that we're providing food for the North Korea people who starve. We have an obligation to lead the fight on AIDS, on Africa. And we have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That's our obligation. That is what we have been called to do, as far as I'm concerned.
So in short, God has called upon America/Bush to democratize the Middle East, apparently by force. Incidentally, God has also called on the United States to "help feed the hungry", even though we, you know, give the lowest amount of international aid, in terms of percentage of GDP, of any developed country
. Also, I guess Bush thinks God told him to underfund his own AIDS initiative too. Anyway...
--For more analysis of the "claim vs fact" variety, go here
. Also, over at Pandagon, Jesse and Ezra covered it live
UPDATE: I almost forgot about the 9/11 Commission question that almost got me into a car accident from laughing, or crying, or something. Italics mine:
Q. Mr. President, Why are you and the vice president insisting on appearing together before the 9/11 commission? And Mr. President, who will you be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30?
A. We'll find that out soon. That's what Mr. Brahimi is doing. He's figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over. And secondly, because the the 9/11 commission wants to ask us questions. That's why we're meeting, and I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.
Is that an answer to Mike Allen's question? He tries again:
Q. Mr. President, I was asking why you're appearing together rather than separately, which was their request.
A. Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9/11 commission is looking forward to asking us, and I'm looking forward to answering them.
Again, question not answered. Both of them can answer questions separately, without Cheney holding his hand. Is anybody satisfied by this?
Moving on, Bush makes sure Allen doesn't get a chance to press him any further in order to get an actual answer:
Let's see. Hold on for a minute. Oh — I've got some must calls, I'm sorry.
Q. You have been accused of letting the 9/11 threat mature too far, but not letting the Iraq threat mature far enough. First, could you respond to that general criticism? And secondly, in the wake of these two conflicts, what is the appropriate threat level to justify action in, perhaps, other situations going forward?
That softball, cleverly-worded strawman question comes from Washington Times right-winger Bill Sammon, as Josh Marshall