Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Unintended honest answer alert:
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Building sort of on that idea, it's impossible to deny that the world is a better place in the region, certainly a better place without Saddam Hussein. But there's a sense here in this country, and a feeling around the world, that the U.S. has lost credibility by building the case for Iraq upon sometimes flimsy or, some people have complained, non-existent evidence.
And, I'm just wondering, sir, why did you choose to take the world to war in that way?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, look, in my line of work, it's always best to produce results. And I understand that.
Didn't Tony Soprano say that in the first season? Maybe not. It just sounds so like him.
Now, on with the usual incomprehensible gibberish:
The -- for a while the questions were, could you conceivably achieve a military victory in Iraq? You know, the dust storms have slowed you down. And I was a patient man because I realized that we would be successful in achieving our military objective.
Now, of course, the question is, will Iraq ever be free, and will it be peaceful? And I believe it will. I remind some of my friends that it took us a while to go from the Articles of Confederation to the United States Constitution. Even our own experiment with democracy didn't happen overnight. I never have expected Thomas Jefferson to emerge in Iraq in a 90-day period.
And so, this is going to take time. And the world will see what I mean when I say, a free Iraq will help peace in the Middle East, and a free Iraq will be important for changing the attitudes of the people in the Middle East. A free Iraq will show what is possible in a world that needs freedom, in a part of the world that needs freedom.
Let me finish for a minute, John, please. Just getting warmed up. I'm kind of finding my feet. (Laughter.)
Saddam Hussein was a threat. The United Nations viewed him as a threat. That's why they passed 12 resolutions. Predecessors of mine viewed him as a threat. We gathered a lot of intelligence. That intelligence was good, sound intelligence on which I made a decision.
Here comes the real Junior. Snotty, puerile and spoiled:
And in order to placate the critics and the cynics about intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence. And I fully understand that.
And I'm confident that our search will yield that which I strongly believe, that Saddam had a weapons program. I want to remind you, he actually used his weapons program on his own people at one point in time, which is pretty tangible evidence. But I'm confident history will prove the decision we made to be the right decision.
Hold on for a second. You're through. John.
I just described to you that there is a threat to the United States. And I also said, we're doing a better job of sharing intelligence and collecting data so we're able to find -- able to anticipate. And what we really don't want to do, it doesn't make sense to me -- seem like to me is to reveal those sources and methods.
(...unless she's married to Joe Wilson.)
The Rice competence issue seems to have become an embarrassment to Junior, but for an unexpected reason. It's obvious to me that here he's barely containing his rage that people are questioning his personal involvement in the process by presuming that Condi makes decisions rather than him.
Considering he now claims that he alone is responsible for war and peace and that he personally analysed the intelligence, I think we can take the gloves off and start placing blame where it belongs. He basically said today to Bring Em On:
Q Mr. President, you often speak about the need for accountability in many areas. I wonder then, why is Dr. Condoleezza Rice not being held accountable for the statement that your own White House has acknowledged was a mistake in your State of the Union address regarding Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium? And also, do you take personal responsibility for that inaccuracy?
THE PRESIDENT: I take personal responsibility for everything I say, of course. Absolutely. I also take responsibility for making decisions on war and peace. And I analyzed a thorough body of intelligence -- good, solid, sound intelligence -- that led me to come to the conclusion that it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
We gave the world a chance to do it. We had -- remember there's -- again, I don't want to get repetitive here, but it's important to remind everybody that there was 12 resolutions that came out of the United Nations because others recognized the threat of Saddam Hussein. Twelve times the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions in recognition of the threat that he posed. And the difference was, is that some were not willing to act on those resolutions. We were -- along with a lot of other countries -- because he posed a threat.
Dr. Condoleezza Rice is an honest, fabulous person. And America is lucky to have her service. Period.
Oh yes. We're lucky to have someone who says things like:
How can you use the name Hitler and the name of the president of the US in the same sentence? Particularly how can a German, given the devotion of the US in the liberation of Germany from Hitler?'
In addition to being honest and fabulous, Dr. Rice has quite a grasp of history, too.
I just love this next part. Asked about his gluttonous fundraising, he can't help but brag --- then quickly side-steps to some befuddled talking points about al Qaeda and the economy before making the observation that his fundraising prowess is a "barometer" of his electoral success. The codpiece swells with pride:
Q Yes, sir. And with 15 fundraisers scheduled between -- for the summer months, do you worry about the perception that you're unduly attentive to the interests of people who can afford to spend $2,000 to see you?
THE PRESIDENT: Michael, I think American people, now that they've realized I'm going to seek reelection, expect me to seek reelection. They expect me to actually do what candidates do. And so, you're right, I'll be spending some time going out and asking the American people to support me. But most of my time, as I say in my speeches -- as I'm sure you've been bored to tears listening to -- is that there is a time for politics, and that's going to be later on. I've got a lot to do. And I will continue doing my job. And my job will be to work to make America more secure.
Steve asked a question about this al Qaeda possible attack. Every day I am reminded that our nation is still vulnerable. Every day I'm reminded about what 9/11 means to America. That's a lesson, by the way, I'll never forget, the lesson of 9/11, because -- and I remember right after 9/11 saying that this will be a different kind of war, but it's a war, and sometimes there will be action, and sometimes there won't, but we're still threatened. And I see that almost every day, Mike. And therefore, that is a major part of my job.
And the other part of my job that I talked about is the economic security of the American people. And I spend a lot of time on the economy, going out and talking to the American people about the economy, and will continue to do so.
But, no, listen, since I've made the decision to run, of course, I'm going to do what candidates do. And we're having pretty good success, which is -- it's kind of an interesting barometer, early barometer, about the support we're garnering.
Keil, Jeanne, and then Larry. Keil. Stretch. Super Stretch.
Allriiiight! Deke rules, dude. He pulls this kibbutzing throughout the press conference --- even when they're talking about death and carnage. This, apparently,is what they meant by honor and dignity.
The following starts out like typical spin and then turns into a bizarre (and incredibly dumb) digression about discussing "thorny issues" like the definition of "check points" with Ariel Sharon, attitude and body language in a garden and the transparent Palestinian finance minister's web site. If you didn't know who was talking, you'd think he was 10 years old:
Q Mr. President, you've been involved now in the Mideast peace process, and have certainly learned firsthand how developments like creation of a fence can complicate progress. Based on that, when you stood there about a year ago and proposed your road map, you spoke about a Palestinian state in 2005. Do you think that goal is still realistic, or is it likely to slide just because it's so hard to make headway?
THE PRESIDENT: I do think it's realistic. I also know when we start sliding goals, it makes progress less realistic. Absolutely, I think it's realistic. And I think we're making pretty good progress in a short period of time.
I'm impressed by Prime Minister Abbas' vision of a peaceful Palestinian state. I believe him when he says that we must rout out terror in order for a Palestinian state to exist. I believe he's true. I think Mr. Dahlan, his Security Chief, also recognizes that.
And we've got to help those two leaders in a couple of ways to realize that vision of a peaceful Palestinian state. One is to provide help and strategy to Mr. Dahlan so that he can lead Palestinian security forces to the dismantlement of bomb-making factories, rocket-making factories, inside Gaza and the West Bank. That's going to be a very important part of earning the confidence of the world, for that matter. We've also got to recognize that there are things that can happen on the ground that will strengthen Mr. Abbas' hand, relative to the competition, moving -- for example, movement throughout the country.
So I spent time talking to Prime Minister Sharon yesterday about checkpoints. We discussed the difference between a checkpoint for security purposes, and a checkpoint that might be there that's -- that isn't -- there for inconvenience purposes. Let me put it to you that.
We talked about all the thorny issues. But the most important thing is that we now have an interlocutor in Mr. Abbas who is committed to peace, and who believes in the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
One of the most interesting visits I've had on this issue took place in the Oval Office there with the Finance Minister of the Palestinian Authority. I was pleased to discover that he -- I think he received a degree from the University of Texas, which gave me even more confidence when he spoke. But he is a -- he talked about how a free state, free country, will flourish when the Palestinians are just given a chance.
See, he believes in the Palestinian people to the point where he's willing to take risk for peace. As I understand it, he's put the Palestinian budget on the web page. That's -- that's what we call transparency in the diplomatic world. It means that he's willing to show the finances to make it clear they're not stealing money -- is another way to put it. That's a positive development, Larry.
So I -- what I first look at is attitudes. I also believe Prime Minister Sharon is committed to a peaceful Palestinian state. He's committed because he understands that I will in no way compromise the security of the Israeli people, or the Palestinian people, for that matter, to terror; that he knows when I say we're willing to fight terror, we mean it, because we proved it.
I thought it was interesting yesterday, by the way, that he spoke clearly about Iraq and the importance of Iraq in terms of Middle Eastern peace, as well. And I believe he's right on that. I believe that a free Iraq will make it easier to achieve peace in that part of the world. I also know that we've got to get others in the neighborhood to continue to remind certain countries that it will be frowned upon if they destabilize the process.
The stated objective of Iran is the destruction of Israel, for example. And we've got to work in a collective way with other nations to remind Iran that they shouldn't develop a nuclear weapon. It's going to require more than one voice saying that, however. It's going to require a collective effort of the Europeans, for example, to recognize the true threat of an armed Iran to achieving peace in the Middle East. And -- but I'm pleased by the attitudes.
You know, when I was in Aqaba, I don't know if you remember, but I asked Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Abbas to go outside. I wanted to watch the body language, first and foremost, just to make sure we weren't fooling ourselves, that when leaders commit to being able to work with each, you can get a pretty good sense of that commitment.
What was also interesting on the outside meeting -- I mean, it was a very cordial discussion, and there was the desire for these leaders to talk. And they have talked since the Aqaba meeting, and that's a positive development. But what was also interesting, as Condi reported to me later, to watch the discussions between the different -- both Cabinets. And we were watching carefully to determine if there's the will for peace. We have found a person who has got the will to work for peace. And that's Prime Minister Abbas.
We'll work through the issues that are nettlesome. And there will be some big issues that come along. But the first thing that has to happen is the Palestinian people have got to realize there's hope in a free society. And if they choose the leader that is most likely to -- choose to back the leader that is most likely to deliver that hope.
But, this discussion of the Iranian diaspora and some TV broadcast from LA really takes the yellowcake. He is literally talking nonsense:
I -- all options remain on the table. I believe that the best way to deal with the Iranians at this point in time is to convince others to join us in a clear declaration that the development of a nuclear weapon is not in their interests. I believe a free Iraq will affect the lives of Iranians. I want to thank the diaspora here in the United States, particularly in L.A. -- which reminds me, my last question is going to Ed. And -- so you can prepare for it, Ed. We've got a lot of our fellow citizens who are in e-mail contact, phone contact with people who live throughout Iran. And I want to thank them for that.
Interestingly enough, there's a TV station that I think has been -- people have read about that is broadcast out of L.A. by one of our citizens. He's -- he or she has footed the bill. It's widely watched. The people of Iran are interested in freedom, and we stand by their side. We stand on the side of those who are desperate for freedom in Iran. We understand their frustrations in living in a society that is totalitarian in nature. And now is the time for the world to come together, Ron, to send a clear message.
This is the most powerful man in the world.
digby 7/30/2003 02:22:00 PM