Bush had a photo op & press conference with Karzai today.
He told Karzai, “I know there’s some in your country who wonder or not -- whether or not America has got the will to do the hard work necessary to help you succeed. We have got that will, and we’re proud of you as a partner.” Karzai replied, “Wonderful. Great,” because he had to say something, but it was an odd sort of statement to have to formulate a response to.
“We discussed different agencies in your government and how best to make them accountable to the people. We’re going to help you build roads.” Er, accountable roads?
“The President gave me a very direct assessment of successes in eradicating poppies and failures in eradicating poppies.” Guess which part was longer?
Bush said he will have dinner Wednesday with Karzai and Musharraf, which he says is “going to be an interesting discussion amongst three allies”. Considering all the sniping between Karzai and Musharraf recently about bin Laden and intelligence-sharing, it should indeed be “interesting”: “Pass the rolls, please.” “I would be delighted to pass the rolls, but you have yet to tell me where I might find the rolls.” “I told you exactly where the rolls are.” “Ah, but that is where the rolls were ten minutes ago. How am I to know where the rolls are now? Why, they might not even be on my side of the table...” Etcetera.
Karzai said of an American soldier he’d just met, a woman with six children, “There’s nothing more that any nation can do for another country, to send a woman with children to Afghanistan to help.” Um, right.
Bush says, contrary to the NIE, that the Iraq war isn’t fueling terrorist growth: “My judgment is, if we weren’t in Iraq, they’d find some other excuse, because they have ambitions. They kill in order to achieve their objectives.” “They’ve used all kinds of excuses,” he says, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Funny, I thought just a few days ago we were supposed to be taking the words of the terrorists seriously. “We’re not going to let their excuses stop us from staying on the offense. ... We’re not going to let lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war.”
He adds that the NIE is old news, and has the nerve to suggest that it was leaked just now to affect the elections, “to create confusion in the minds of the American people, in my judgment, is why they leaked it.”
A Reuters reporter asked if Clinton was right that the Bush administration had no meetings on bin Laden for the 9 months before 9/11. With a near certainty that he would be asked that very question, this is how well prepared he was:
You know, look, Caren, I’ve watched all this finger-pointing and naming of names, and all that stuff. Our objective is to secure the country. And we’ve had investigations, we had the 9/11 Commission, we had the look back this, we’ve had the look back that. The American people need to know that we spend all our time doing everything that we can to protect them. So I’m not going to comment on other comments. But I will comment on this -- that we’re on the offense against an enemy that wants to do us harm. And we must have the tools necessary to protect our country. On the one hand, if al Qaeda or al Qaeda affiliates are calling somebody in the country, we need to know why....And so on.
“I don’t have enough time to finger-point,” he added. Because of all the, you know, terrorists he has to deal with: “They’re out there, they’re mean, and they need to be brought to justice.”
Stupid reporter meets stupid preznident:
Q If I may, Mr. President, do you agree with the analysis from the counter chief European -- counterterrorism chief European spokesman who said today that the international support for terrorism has receded. ...I’ve googled, and I still don’t know what the reporter was talking about, but then neither did the reporter and neither did Bush, and Bush completely misinterpreted what the reporter said the guy said, but it didn’t stop him getting pretty darned belligerent.
PRESIDENT BUSH: It’s a four-part question. First of all, I didn’t -- what was this person a spokesman for?
Q Counterterrorism chief in Europe.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Some obscure spokesman?
Q No, actually, he has a name.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay, he’s a got a name. (Laughter.) Well, no, I don’t agree with the spokesman for the obscure organization that said that the international commitment to fighting terror is declining.
Then Bush started talking again about that dinner (which I read after I wrote my little dinner roll sketch above): “It will be interesting for me to watch the body language of these two leaders to determine how tense things are.”