Thursday, November 09, 2006

Say anything Bush

I thought it was pretty amazing that Bush in his press conference basically admitted that he and other politicians will lie, or obfuscate, or whatever during a campaign to get elected. What's worse is that he felt it was completely expected--a part of the game.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Last week you told us that Secretary Rumsfeld will be staying on. Why is the timing right now for this, and how much does it have to do with the election results?

THE PRESIDENT: Right. No, you and Hunt and Keil came in the Oval Office, and Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they're going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.

The truth of the matter is, as well -- I mean, that's one reason I gave the answer, but the other reason why is I hadn't had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet, and I hadn't had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point.

I had been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspective. He likes to call it fresh eyes. He, himself, understands that Iraq is not working well enough, fast enough. And he and I are constantly assessing. And I'm assessing, as well, all the time, by myself, about, do we have the right people in the right place, or do we -- got the right strategy? As you know, we're constantly changing tactics. And that requires constant assessment.

And so he and I both agreed in our meeting yesterday that it was appropriate that I accept his resignation. And so the decision was made -- actually, I thought we were going to do fine yesterday. Shows what I know. But I thought we were going to be fine in the election. My point to you is, is that, win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee.

So he's trying to have it both ways. On the one hand he wants to say that he made the decision the day before the election and after he had told the reporters that Rumsfeld was going to stay until the end. On the other hand he wants to point out that he's been thinking about making a change for some time. But the most interesting part is that he admits he didn't answer the question straight because he thought it would imply that political thinking is driving the war planning.

Q Mr. President, thank you. Can I just start by asking you to clarify, sir, if, in your meeting with Steve and Terry and Dick, did you know at that point --


Q -- you would be making a change on Secretary Rumsfeld?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I did not. And the reason I didn't know is because I hadn't visited with his replacement -- potential replacement.

Q But you knew he would be leaving, just not who would replace him?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn't know that at the time.

Q Okay. May I ask you about Nancy Pelosi --

THE PRESIDENT: The other thing I did know, as well, is that that kind of question, a wise question by a seasoned reporter, is the kind of thing that causes one to either inject major military decisions at the end of a campaign, or not. And I have made the decision that I wasn't going to be talking about hypothetical troop levels or changes in command structure coming down the stretch.

And I'll tell you why I made that decision. I made that decision because I think it sends a bad signal to our troops if they think the Commander-in-Chief is constantly adjusting tactics and decisions based upon politics. And I think it's important in a time of war that, to the extent possible, we leave politics out of the major decisions being made. And it was the right decision to make, by the way.

And secondly, I hadn't visited with Bob Gates. I told you I visited with him last Sunday in Crawford. You can't replace somebody until you know you got somebody to replace him with. And finally, I hadn't had my last conversation with Secretary Rumsfeld, which I had yesterday.

And then he has this nice little exchange about Pelosi.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. With all due respect, Nancy Pelosi has called you incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes, and as recently as yesterday, dangerous. How will you work with someone who has such little respect for your leadership and who is third in line to the presidency?

THE PRESIDENT: Suzanne, I've been around politics a long time; I understand when campaigns end, and I know when governing begins. And I am going to work with people of both parties.

Look, people say unfortunate things at times. But if you hold grudges in this line of work, you're never going to get anything done. And my intention is to get some things done. And as I said, I'm going to start visiting with her on Friday, with the idea of coming together.

He dismisses Pelosi's critique of him as simply politics, with the implication that "hey, we all do it." That is not exactly Republican talking points.

1 comment:

Maryann said...

It reminds me of Michael Kinsley's essay for the NYTimes on Sunday. He takes a long time to get to the point: "The biggest flaw in our democracy is, as I say, the enormous tolerance for intellectual dishonesty. Politicians are held to account for outright lies, but there seems to be no sanction against saying things you obviously don’t believe. There is no reward for logical consistency, and no punishment for changing your story depending on the circumstances. Yet one minor exercise in disingenuousness can easily have a greater impact on an election than any number of crooked voting machines."

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