Sunday, February 10, 2008

History takes a long time for us to reach (Updated, with a scurrilous calumny)


Follow-up: Sgt Evan Vela (see previous post) sentenced to 10 years.

Secretary of War Robert Gates spoke at the Munich Conference on Security Policy today. A Russian member of parliament asked him in the Q&A whether the US hadn’t created its own problem in Afghanistan by funding the mujahedeen. Gates responded, “If we bear a particular responsibility for the role of the mujahedeen and Al Qaeda growing up in Afghanistan, it has more to do with our abandonment of the country in 1989 than our assistance of it in 1979.” So the lesson is, once you intervene in another country, you have to keep doing so, forever.

Bush was interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox today (taped Friday).

CONVINCING TO CONVINCE: He said that McCain is a true conservative, that “His principles are sound and solid as far as I’m concerned,” but “if John is the nominee, he has got some convincing to do to convince people that he is a solid conservative.”

Speaking of solid, he says that Huckabee was fat and now isn’t, which is why he’d also be a good president. Or something: “I remember Mike when he weighed a lot and I’ll never forget getting off at the airplane and there he was at the foot of Air Force One and I couldn’t recognize him. And the reason I bring that up is he’s disciplined.”

He refused to believe that any Republican candidate could possibly disagree with him: “I’m sure that you can find quotes from people running for office that sound like they’re at odds with me.” What about Huckabee’s remark that Bush’s foreign policy showed an arrogant bunker mentality? “I think he has tried to walk back that position.”

But in the end, it all comes down to, um, reality: “And I confident that the nominee will be the person who is capable of assuring the American people, one, the reality, I see the reality. And secondly, I’ve got a plan to deal with it.”

On Barack Obama: “I certainly don’t know what he believes in.”

(Update: the Fox transcript is atrocious, getting curiously opaque when Bush fires this scurrilous calumny at Obama: “The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he’s going to attack Pakistan and break the Mani Mijad (ph). I think (INAUDIBLE) that in a press conference.” The WaPo is clearer: “The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he’s going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad.”)

On why it’s pointless to try to make rich people pay their taxes: “I promise you the Democrat party is going to field a candidate who says I’m going to raise your tax. If they’re going to say, oh, we’re only going to tax the rich people, but most people in America understand that the rich people hire good accountants and figure out how not to necessarily pay all the taxes and the middle class gets stuck.”

SUCCESS, YOU SAY? WHY THAT’S SO CRAZY, IT JUST MIGHT WORK! “You know, I met with General Petraeus when I was in Kuwait on my trip to the Middle East. And my message to the general was, success is paramount. And therefore, whatever you recommend, make it based upon the need to succeed.”

OR NOT: “But I will listen, give them careful consideration and make up my mind. But it is going to based upon whether or not we can succeed or not.”

ON WATERBOARDING PAST: “First of all, whatever we have done was legal...”

AND FUTURE: “...and whatever decision I will make will be reviewed by the Justice Department to determine whether or not the legality is there.”

A FAIR QUESTION: “And for those who criticize what we did in the past, I ask them, which attack would they rather have not permitted - stopped? Which attack on America did they - would they have said, well, you know, maybe it wasn’t all that important that we stop those attacks.”

ABUNDANTLY CLEAR TO NERVOUS NATIONS: “In my trip to the Middle East I made it abundantly clear to nervous nations that Iran is a threat. And that’s what the NIE said if you read it carefully.” However, “the NIE sends mixed signals.”

OUR GOAL IN IRAN: “To pressure them to the point where we hope somebody rational shows up and says, OK, it’s not worth it anymore.”

HISTORIOGRAPHY: “it’s very hard to write the future history of America before the current history hasn’t been fully written.” So true. “And as far as history goes and all of these quotes about people trying to guess what the history of the Bush administration is going to be, you know, I take great comfort in knowing that they don’t know what they are talking about, because history takes a long time for us to reach.”

BOOKS THAT HAVE WRITTEN: “There just isn’t - objective history. I don’t know how many books that have written about my administration, probably more than any other president, which actually says I’m doing something.” He’s said this before; he really believes there are more books about him than about Lincoln or JFK or FDR, because he’s just that important.

Asked what advice he might give his successor: “Rely upon a higher power to help you through the day.” He makes being president sound exactly like working a 12-step program.

Caption contest:


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