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Wednesday, April 14, 2004
 
BUSH PRESS CONFERENCE

My thoughts.

1. What I like about Bush is his moral clarity. He sees this war as black and white. We wear the white hats. We kill the bad guys. It isn't that complicated. The "nuanced" positions in the war on terror is what kept us wringing our hands when Bin Laden was offered up to us. When a bad guy is offered up in the future, I think we are far more likely to shoot the entire plane out of the sky than to try to cajole the Saudis to pick him up for us. Bush learned the fundamental lesson of September 11th -- we are at war.

2. I think the debate on Iraq should put to rest the idea that the left cares about the third world. The third world is interesting to the extent that it promotes socialism or other trendy causes, or to the extent that it allows us an excuse to criticize western society. But when it actually comes to people in the third world (a) governing for themselves and (b) living free of a dictatorship, we really don't have any time for it. The President is dead on right that "freedom isn't our gift to the world, but God's gift to all humanity." This is the Declaration folks. Those who don't believe that all men are endowed with inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should just pack it up and start their own country. I don't believe we should try to liberate every oppressed people. We don't have the resources to do such a thing. But when it coincides with our national interest - and changing the culture of the middle east that has for twenty years bred terrorists and suicide bombers -- we should take the opportunity to leave those people with something better. Is this consescending? No more condescending than suggesting that the natural state of things is for Arabs to live in the fear, poverty and hopelessness of despotism.

3. Really glad to see the President criticized Kennedy's comments. He should have named him and said it was shameful and distgraceful, but I am nonetheless glad to see that he was willing to defend the troops and call Kennedy out for comments that will, without a doubt, lead to more dead American soldiers and provide propaganda for our enemies.

4. Only question I thought he completely bombed was the question about him and Cheney appearing before the committee together. I assume the main reason is that the commission has turned out to be political theater rather than a serious effort to get to the truth. The commission meetings should not be televised. Not because there is something to hide, but because the political figures involved cannot help but grandstand to the cameras and put people on the "hot seat" for a small victory on the TV news. Both sides are doing this now -- note the release of the memo from Gorelock (sp?). The phony controversy about Condi testifying in public versus in private, the Clarke debacle, the phony PDB controversy and the rest of it is all a big distration. Let's just get on with the war on terror.

5. The media's obsession with a Bush apology really came out in full force. I counted 4 questions relating to the theme of the President admitting he made a mistake or making an apology. He finally nailed it by saying that Bin Laden was responsible for bringing the towers down. When someone shows me another incident in American history where an American President apologized for a similar act of aggression against America, I will rethink my position. Did FDR apologize for Pearl Harbor? No, American anger was directed where it belonged. What FDR did do was fire some people in the chain of command responsible for Pearl Harbor. If you are saying Bush should have fired people, I guess fine. But that isn't the same as saying he should apologize. Apologizing sends a horrible, horrible signal to our enemies -- the image of the American president grovelling for forgiveness rather than being forceful and focused on the mission would send exactly the wrong message. After 9/11 we became the strong horse. It is a shame we live in this victim-centered culture -- rather than playing that role, I prefer the country assume the role of avenger. More Charles Bronson... less Dr. Phil.

On the firing issue, Bush could have fired Tenet, I suppose. But that would have left us transitioning to a new CIA director at the worst possible time. Bush also understood what seems clear -- we didn't have the will as a country to do the things necessary to protect the country from attack. Airport security measures of this magnitude would have been blocked by Congress because they hurt the industry and were too expensive. Profiling Islamic passengers would have been opposed by ACLU, NY Times and every other paper in the country as unconstitutional. Attack on Afghanistan would have been opposed by the "world community". Communication between CIA and FBI would have been illegal and opposed as attempt to create a police state. Arresting Arab men with terrorist ties and keeping them locked up to prevent them from attacking us would have led to large scale demonstrations and cries of racisim. Muhammed Atta would have been interviewed on 60 minutes to describe how horrible he felt being yanked off a plane because he was Islamic and carrying a harmless box cutter! Keep in mind that all these things -- attacks on Afghanistan, profiling, communication between FBI/CIA, huge increases in costs for airport security were opposed by various groups AFTER 9/11. There is no rational reason to believe that any president, nonetheless one who won in a contested election, could have accomplished any of these things in his first six months in office. My guess is that Bush realized he had no real reason other than to provide himself political cover to fire these guys. The fact that he didn't put political expediency first separates him in a good way from his predecessors.




















Is there anything more troubling than


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