Wednesday, March 29, 2006

History almost is like so far back it doesn’t count


The Afghan parliament agreed that Abdul Rahman not be allowed to leave the country, but didn’t take a formal vote, so we don’t know exactly how many members of that institution we created and protect want apostates tried and executed. Rahman is now in Italy without, in case anyone’s forgotten what set all this off, his daughters, whom I assume he’ll never see again.

The last Bush speech of the current cycle, and the weakest. First, he put blame for the crapfest in Iraq on Saddam Hussein. “[M[uch of the animosity and violence we now see is the legacy of Saddam Hussein. He is a tyrant who exacerbated sectarian divisions to keep himself in power.” He explained, in the manner of a 4th-grade oral report, “Iraq is a nation with many ethnic and religious and sectarian and regional and tribal divisions.”

Talking about the Iranian nuclear energy and/or weapons program, he repeated that “It’s difficult to negotiate with non-transparent societies.” As opposed to the wholly transparent energy task force run by Dick Cheney. Anyway,
It’s easier for a non-transparent society to try to negotiate with countries in which there’s a free press and a free political opposition and a place where people can express their opinions, because it sometimes causes people to play their cards publicly. In negotiating with non-transparent societies, it’s important to keep your counsel.
But in a transparent way, no doubt.

And when talking with Russia, it’s important to be confusing: “I haven’t given up on Russia. I still think Russia understands that it’s in her interest to be West, to work with the West, and to act in concert with the West.”


He explained the importance of history: “It’s what Americans have got to understand. We tend to forget. Ours is a society where things are like instant, so therefore, history almost is like so far back it doesn’t count.”

He explained the importance of economics. Talking about China, which he calls, a “big opportunity for democracy,” he explains, “I happen to believe free markets eventually yield free societies. One of the most -- one of the most pure forms of democracy is the marketplace, where demand causes something to happen. Excess demand causes prices to -- the supply causes prices to go up, and vice versa.” Or maybe it’s the other way around. He has an MBA from Harvard, you know. Do you have an MBA from Harvard? Well then.

The straw man is alive and well: “You hear the debate, well, they’re just imposing their values. That’s all they’re doing. Well, those are the folks who must not think that freedom is universal.”

“I want the Iraqi people to hear I’ve got great confidence in their capacity to self-govern,” which doesn’t stop him issuing orders in the very next sentence: “I also want to hear the -- the Iraqi people to hear it’s about time you get a unity government going. In other words, Americans understand newcomers to the political arena, but pretty soon it’s time to shut her down and get governing.” His “confidence” in the Iraqis was belied earlier, when he said, “If we leave Iraq before they’re capable of defending their own democracy, the terrorists will win.”

Thank you just for being you:
Q I’m Iraqi-American.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.
The suave homme du monde speaks:
THE PRESIDENT: No, that’s a great question. Thanks. It’s [immigration] obviously topic du jour. (Laughter.) Pretty fancy, huh? Topic du jour? (Laughter.) I don’t want to ruin the image. (Laughter.)
Least plausible statement: “I weep about the suffering of the Palestinians.”

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