Wednesday, April 14, 2004
The press conference: I was lucky enough to be able to catch most of President Bush's press conference last night. He did an acceptable job; he'll never be mistaken for Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton when it comes to public speaking. you can find a transcript of the press conference here.
I was disappointed that Bush didn't answer the question of why he would be testifying before the (joke of a) 9/11 commission with Dick Cheney. He ducked the question, and there's all sorts of easy ways to answer it.
Similarly, Bush was genuinely befuddled by a question that was certainly forseeable and that he should have been prepared for.
Q. In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say? And what lessons have you learned from it?
A. Hmmm. I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it. I'm sure historians will look back and say, Gosh, he could have done it better this way or that way. You know, I just — I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.
I would have gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even though what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would have called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein. See, I happen to believe we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth as — exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like, the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.
One of the things that Charlie Duelfer talked about was that he was surprised at the level of intimidation he found amongst people who should know about weapons and their fear of talking about them, because they don't want to be killed. You know, there's this kind of, there's this terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq. They're worried about getting killed. And therefore, they're not going to talk. And it'll all settle out. We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time.
However, the fact that he had the capacity to make them bothers me today just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually not only had weapons of mass destruction — and the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them. And I have no doubt in my mind that he would like to have inflicted harm or paid people to inflict harm or trained people to inflict harm on America because he hated us.
You know, I hope I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't — you just put me under the spot here and maybe I'm not quick, as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.
Ouch. Karl Rove, your beating will commence in five minutes.
On the whole, however, Bush made his points. We're not going to cut and run from Iraq. As long as Bush is president, terrorist acts will not dissuade the United States from fighting for freedom. This was a plus for Bush. He got out in front of the cameras and spoke to the American people. He answered some tough questions and wasn't really bloodied.