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It's uh, well, uh, like, uh, maybe, uh...

Andrew Sullivan, for some incomprehensible reason, liked George Bush's press conference. I can't imagine why. Because, while I'm generally supportive of the administration's stance with respect to Iraq, I found this performance to be embarrassingly bad. I don't want to make the mistake of confusing articulateness with intelligence, but that took articulateness to new lows. Although I do have to say that after reading the transcript, it's not nearly as bad as having to sit through it live. Still, statements like these...

Finally, the attitude of the Iraqis toward the American people -- it's an interesting question. They're really pleased we got rid of Saddam Hussein, and you can understand why. This guy was a torturer, a killer, a maimer. There's mass graves.

I mean, he was a horrible individual that really shocked the country in many ways, shocked it into a kind of a fear of making decisions toward liberty. That's what we've seen recently. Some citizens are fearful of stepping up.

And they were happy -- they're not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either. They do want us there to help with security.

...make me cringe with shame. "I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either"?! Are we discussing an airplane bathroom? And "I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it." and "Look, nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens. I don't." hardly inspired much confidence, either. Why can't we have someone who sounds a little more like, say, Tony Blair to stand up for these views?

As long as I'm criticizing, I ought to note that I thought Bush got more comfortable and less awkward as the press conference continued, and I thought that this was particularly effective:

Maybe I can best put it this way, why I feel so strongly about this historic moment. I was having dinner with Prime Minister Koizumi, and we were talking about North Korea, about how we can work together to deal with the threat. The North Korea leader is a threat.

And here are two friends, now, discussing what strategy to employ to prevent him from further developing and deploying a nuclear weapon. And it dawned on me that, had we blown the peace in World War II, that perhaps this conversation would not have been taking place.

It also dawned on me then that when we get it right in Iraq, at some point in time an American president will be sitting down with a duly elected Iraqi leader, talking about how to bring security to what has been a troubled part of the world.

The legacy that our troops are going to leave behind is a legacy of lasting importance, as far as I'm concerned. It's a legacy that really is based upon our deep belief that people want to be free and that free societies are peaceful societies.

Some of the debate really centers around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free; that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing or free. I'd strongly disagree with that.

I reject that. Because I believe that freedom is the deepest need of every human soul, and if given a chance, the Iraqi people will be not only self-governing, but a stable and free society.

Unfortunately, the media was far too interested in trying to get Bush to apologize for 9/11 to notice. He did finally place the blame appropriately with Osama Bin Laden, but it took him several tries of meandering non-responses before he did so.

You know, I'm not saying I could do a better job at a press conference -- but, then, I'm not the president, and I don't have a staff of dozens of people to assist me in preparing, either. Sheesh. Hasn't he ever heard of rehearsing?


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Comments (2)

Craig B:

Well, those who know me know I ain't much on George Bush, and his Administration. But that "effective" quote *is* the reason (the real reason, the best reason, the only good reason) for being in Iraq. I thought it was terrific.

Hoyt Wilhelm:

Of course, that was probably the one piece which he had been coached on and rehearsed repeatedly, and was just waiting for the right moment to use it. In fact - what was the question that Bush was answering?

"Your critics, including your Democratic opponent, say that's proof to them your coalition is window dressing. How would you answer those critics? And can you assure the American people that post-sovereignty, when the handover takes place, that there will be more burden sharing by allies, in terms of security forces? "

Hmmm ... he didn't even really wait for a question where the mini-speech was relevant, did he?

Anyway, of course he looks better on transcript than in real life. Transcripts do away with stutters, uhhhs, and embarrassingly long pauses.

But if you're looking for affirmation that he really does have vision and insight - and not just an ability to make "gut calls", read a teleprompter, and repeat prepared speeches - be our guest. As in the Bible, in a Bush speech it seems anyone can find what they want to believe.


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