Terry, we're developing a comprehensive strategy regarding that entity
George W. Bush, in his first primetime press conference Tuesday evening in what seems like years, got off to rocky start when reading his prepared statement to the American people:
"This has been tough weeks in that country," he began, referring obviously to Iraq, and mixing up his subject and predicate. I believe, George, that the correct way to say that would be "these have been."
In the next sentence, he said, "... our military commanders report that this violence is being insticated by three groups." Insticated. Hmm.
But he settled in, aided by his magically glowing tie (did you see that?), which soon began to hypnotize me.
I snapped out of it when he said the following: " ... coalition forces will help Iraqis to protect their government from external aggression and internal subversion."
It seemed to me he put a peculiar emphasis on "internal subversion," looking down at all the scum in press row.
On that note, he rejected the idea that Iraq could turn into another Vietnam:
"I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think the analogy sends the wrong message to our troops and sends the wrong message to the enemy."
So remember, next time you criticize the war, you are sending messages to the troops and to the enemy. I didn't realize Bush was such a believer in morphic resonance.
He almost made a huge gaffe when he said this about democracy in the Middle East and how people want to be free: "Some of the debate really centers around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free, that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing and free. I strongly disagree with that, I reject that ... "
Is anyone really saying that brown-skinned people can't govern themselves? (If anyone is saying that, they're probably members of the Republican Party, just thought I'd point that out.)
Wow. Luckily for him, Bush attributed that "side of the debate" to others. And honestly, I don't believe he actually thinks that. He seems pretty racially tolerant, at least on the surface. But he's too callous and not agile-minded enough to comprehend or care that his policies are tilted towards white people and tend to crush non-white people. (e.g., Live near a power plant? Tough luck, we're relaxing the rules. I'm talking here of course about environmental justice, and how the poorest people end up having to live near toxic sites, and how an inordinate portion of the poor are black and Hispanic, etc.; look at Bayview-Hunter's Point in San Francisco, for example.)
Then we got the usual mumbo jumbo about how a democracy in the Middle East will ipso facto change the Middle East (is this a rehash of the Vietnam-era "Domino Theory" or what?):
In re the terrorists: "Perhaps most frightening to these men and their movement, the terrorists have seen the advance of freedom and reform in the greater Middle East. A desperate enemy is also a dangerous enemy."
Yep. They're desperate all right. As I said the other day, in one of the most tasteless things I've ever written (but desperate political times call for tasteless measures), the Iraqis in Fallujah intended to surrender when they hung those burned Americans from the bridge, they just couldn't find any white flags.
More mumbo jumbo:
"And a free Iraq is going to be a major blow for terrorism. It'll change the world. A free Iraq in the midst of the Middle East is vital to future peace and security."
" ... A free Iraq in the midst of the Middle East will have incredible change."
What's missing in Bush's endless circular think-speak on this issue is the HOW. How is a democratic Iraq going to increase peace and security in the Middle East, assuming Iraq will eventually stabilize, which is a big assumption.
The critical how ends up being more mumbo jumbo logic. "A free society is a hopeful society," Bush said. Hope? You're basing all of this on hope? This is reality, son. These are a bunch of angry people who don't like us very much.
A hopeful society is a society where, Bush said, parents can raise and educate their children, where there are jobs. That's more like it, though, again, I'm not sure what hoping and clicking your shoes together three times have to do with it.
As Brecht said, "Erst das Fressen, denn das Denken." We need to nail down security in Iraq, get the oil flowing to generate revenue, clean up the sewage that's running in the streets, get people jobs, train the police (who in one story I saw linked to from Atrios actually turned on their American military counterparts during a firefight a couple weeks ago; didn't see that scary story in the daily newspapers).
More circular logic on the decision to invade Iraq: "We're carrying out a decision that's already been made and will not change."
Don't criticize, man. The decision was already made. By me. But that was a different me, man. See, there's been a, like, 100 percent turnover in the cells of my body. So, you'd have to go talk to that person man, but that person, like, doesn't exist anymore. Whoa. I just freaked myself out.
Bush utterly dodged this question: "Mr. President, why are you and the Vice President insisting on appearing together before the 9/11 commission?":
Bush: " ... because the 9/11 commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting, and I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions."
Uh, we know that's why they want you to appear before the commission, to answer questions. The reporter tried again, asking "why you're appearing together rather than separately."
Bush: "Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the
9/11 commission is looking forward to asking us, and I'm looking forward to answering them."
He then quickly took the next question. My opinion is that the Bush political team does not believe it is safe for Bush to go in there by himself, that he'd stumble, appear uninformed, contradict statements by others, and that they need Cheney in there so that he can keep Bush on track, prompt him, answer for him, etc.
I don't really see any other explanation, when you look at, for instance, how badly Bush performed in his interview on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert a couple months ago.
Lastly, Bush unintentionally admitted that Clinton couldn't have done more than he did on Al Qaeda, even though he and his officials have been hammering Clinton for precisely that. See, that's what happens when Bush talks extemporaneously. Here is Bush talking about why he didn't go after the Taliban militarily prior to Sept. 11th:
"The, frankly, mood of the world (pre-9/11) would have been astounded had the United States acted unilaterally in trying to deal with Al Qaeda in that part of the
world. It would have been awfully hard to do as well, by the way. It just seemed an impractical strategy at the time and frankly I didn't contemplate it. I did contemplate a larger strategy as to how to deal with Al Qaeda ... "