Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bush press conference: respecting the command structure

Bush held a press conference today, and this time there were no 13-year-old girls for him to make cry.

Really, he didn’t have anything new to say, though his faith in his old material is touching. So you might want to just look at the pictures, which pretty much tell you everything you need to know about George W. Bush.

He attacked the integrity of everyone who disagrees with his assessment of the war in Iraq. “When we start drawing down our forces in Iraq it will be because our military commanders say the conditions on the ground are right, not because pollsters say it will be good politics.” If you want to name the people you think are opposing the war because the pollster say it will be good politics, name them, otherwise just shut up. Also, a democracy doesn’t turn over its decisionmaking to its military commanders. (Indeed, he said that his waiting until David Petraeus reports in September before making any decisions is “respecting the command structure.”)

Congress, of course, is not actually in this command structure of which he speaks: “Congress has all the right in the world to fund. That’s their main involvement in this war, which is to provide funds for our troops.”

Later a reporter asked why, when he failed to send enough troops initially, and did everything else wrong since then, we should believe he has the “vision for victory,” he said historians will analyze that, and then blamed Tommy Franks and the commanders, which I guess is what he means by respecting the command structure. “I went to commander and commander that were all responsible of different aspects of the operation to remove Saddam. I said to each one of them, do you have what it takes?”

It’s not just poll-watching politicians whose integrity he questions: “I understand why the American people are -- you know, they’re tired of the war. There is -- people are -- there is a war fatigue in America. It’s affecting our psychology.” Personally, I’m not tired of the war, because I was never bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about the war, but it’s just plain insulting to claim that those who turned against the war did so because their “psychology” was “affected,” that they have no rational basis for their views.

And when asked later about the unpopularity of the war, he said, “And of course I’m concerned about whether or not the American people are in this fight. I believe, however, that when they really think about the consequences if we were to precipitously withdraw, they begin to say to themselves, maybe we ought to win this, maybe we ought to have a stable Iraq.” See, they just haven’t really thought about the consequences. When they do that, obviously they’ll agree that he was right all along. You wait and see.

“I cannot look a mother and father of a troop in the eye and say, I’m sending your kid into combat, but I don’t think we can achieve the objective. I wouldn’t do that to a parent or a husband or wife of a soldier.” No, he’d lie to them.

Maybe he’s not really saying that everyone we’re fighting is a member of Al Qaida, but that they’re actually the same 19 guys over and over, taking over new bodies every time the old one is killed, like some crappy horror movie. Or he’s like one of those girls who keep dating guys just like their abusive fathers, or something: “And one of the reasons it is hard work is because on our TV screens are these violent killings, perpetuated by people who have done us harm in the past.” “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th”.

Asked specifically, “are you saying, sir, that al Qaeda in Iraq is the same organization being run by Osama bin Laden, himself?” he responded: “Al Qaeda in Iraq has sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden.” Er, not really the same thing.

IN OTHER WORDS: “There are still car bombs, most of which have the al Qaeda signature on them...” Look for the union label, when you are buying explosives or bombs. “...but they’re declining. In other words, so there’s some measurable progress.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, sectarian violence was really raging.”

On Valerie Plame, Scooter Libby etc, and whether he’s disappointed in the behaviour of any of his advisers: “I’m aware of the fact that perhaps somebody in the administration did disclose the name of that person, and I’ve often thought about what would have happened had that person come forth and said, I did it.” Or if you’d actually asked them to do so. And... perhaps somebody in the administration disclosed her name? PERHAPS!?! “Would we have had this, you know, endless hours of investigation and a lot of money being spent on this matter?” Remember when he claimed to hate leaks? Now the only thing he deplores about the whole affair is the “endless hours of investigation” it exposed his staff to. “But it’s been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House...” though not as tough for Scooter as it should have been, “and it’s run its course and now we’re going to move on.” Considering that at one point he makes fun of his father’s phrase “kinder and gentler,” what he just did is right out of Poppy’s Iran-Contra playbook: for years, Bush the Elder said that he’d love, really and truly love, to talk about his role in that, but there were still legal processes going on. When those were played out or thwarted by pardons, suddenly it was “old history” and not worth speaking about.

IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME: He said he would “consult with members of the Congress, both Republics and Democrats”. (The transcript says “Republicans.” The transcript lies.)

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