Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"I didn't really regret it. I kind of semi-regretted it."

That is what the president said today, according to the A.P.'s transcript. (Another transcript here.) George W. Bush is difficult to understand in transcript form. This is, obviously, no exception. But there was a combative, so it seems, exchange between Bush and Helen Thomas:
QUESTION: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President -- your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime.

Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, your Cabinet officers, former Cabinet officers, intelligence people and so forth -- but what's your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil, the quest for oil. It hasn't been Israel or anything else. What was it?

BUSH: I think your premise, in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- that I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect.

QUESTION: And...

BUSH: Hold on for a second, please. Excuse me. Excuse me.

No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true.

My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. When we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people.

Our foreign policy changed on that day. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life.

And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people, that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy, and that's why I went into Iraq.

Afghanistan provided safe haven for Al Qaida. That's where they trained, that's where they plotted, that's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council. That's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed.

And the world said, "Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences." And therefore, we worked with the world. We worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world.

And when he chose to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Secretary Rumsfeld...

BUSH: You're welcome.

I didn't really regret it. I kind of semi-regretted it.
We see, once again, that familiar monkeyshine of 9/11 and Iraq. Yesterday, the president misrepresented his previous misrepresentations in the effort to convince the public to support military action against Iraq.

Yesterday Keith Olbermann showed two video clips:
OLBERMANN: As if to celebrate the anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, the U.S. military misled us again, transforming an overgrown photo op into Operation Swarmer. It sent every media outlet spinning into breaking news mode, dubbing the so-called operation the largest air assault since “shock and awe.” In short, we all fell for it.

Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, just when you thought the administration might have gone for subtlety instead of audacity, the president himself came back today and in the questions and answers that followed a speech in Cleveland, he insisted he never linked Iraq and Saddam Hussein to 9/11.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said there were three main reasons for going to war in Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction, the claim that Iraq was sponsoring terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and that Iraq had purchased nuclear materials from Niger. All three of those turned out to be false.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: First, just if I might correct a misperception. I don’t think we ever said, at least I know I didn’t say that there was a direct connection between September 11 and Saddam Hussein. We did say that he was the state sponsor of terror. I was very careful never to say that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks on America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Then that must have been a different George W. Bush who gave the State of the Union address on January 28, 2003.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Secretly and without fingerprints he can provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists or help them develop their own. Before September 11, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda in the same sentence separated by seven words, September 11 and Saddam Hussein two sentences later separated by six words.
As Bush's explanations make their way to the public -- in fits and starts -- I have trouble believeing that the American people will feel anything but further discomfort with the situation in Iraq. Xanthippas posted something similar this morning:
The worst consequence of Bush's near total loss of credibility on Iraq is that even if tomorrow he and his administration adopted the plan that guaranteed the best chance of success in Iraq, it might be too late for it to have time to work. The average American's patience in Iraq is slowly running out (thanks in no small part to a lack of trust in the Bush administration) and as news report after news report indicates an ever-increasing amount of civil conflict, many will begin to doubt that there's anything that we (or the Bush administration) can do about Iraq. I believe there is still a chance at success in Iraq, and yet I question whether it's even possible for this adminstration to carry out even the best plan.
The A.P. has a story on the press conference which rightly leads with the "revelation" that we shall remain in Iraq for a very long time, at least according to Bush:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Tuesday the decision about when to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq will fall to future presidents and Iraqi leaders, suggesting that U.S. involvement will continue at least through 2008.
Another hint at what is to come, if this administration has its way.

3 Comments:

Blogger Ezzie said...

Olbermann is a moron. Any idiot sees that that very specifically does NOT link Iraq to 9/11; it equates the dangers of them. That's a huge difference.

Helen Thomas is a terrible reporter - that's one of the most biased, leading questions I've ever seen, and also incredibly rude and full of slanted misrepresentations. I can't believe Bush didn't have her thrown out of the room for disrespect (which I think a President can do...).

6:04 AM  
Blogger Xanthippas said...

Actually Ezzie, he's not such a moron. You're right; Bush never said himself that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11. But he did say repeatedly, with emphasis, over and over again, the Saddam had ties to Al Qaeda, and he let us make the natural connection in our heads. And whatever you think of what Bush said, members of his administration and other conservatives did make that specific connection, time and again, even well after the invasion was concluded.

And I'd like to know how you think asking a question directly is "disrespect." Are our reporters not allowed to question our President, even to the point of rudeness, on things which have yet to be properly explained for us? Was he not in fact wrong about every justification for the war? Is there not some reason to wonder if in fact there were other reasons for the invasion, given that they were so wrong? Is it wrong to ask our leaders? Perhaps Ezzie you come from a school of thought that requires us to treat our leaders with reverence, but I happen to think that all public leaders should have to answer hard and even rude questions when they happen to be completely wrong about something.

9:21 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Could not have said it better myself, Xanthippas!

Bush still, to this day, likes to make the debate murky by mentioning al Qaeda and 9/11 and Saddam in close succession. He grasps at straws, or assails strawmen arguments against his stance.

Fact is, no one is going to buy these speeches -- once again. Policy has to change. Bush won't change it.

We'll suffer the consequences.

10:51 AM  

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