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Bush Press Conference, 4/13/2004: Main Statement

April 14th, 2004

bushpcaThe conference is about to begin. One concern that has come up in my mind is how the press will or will not be played by the administration this time. If you will recall, in his last East Room press conference in March last year, the press was both controlled and beaten down–reporters were hand-picked, Bush Communications director Dan Bartlett knowing who would ask what and choosing only those that Bush wanted and expected; reporters that might ask hardballs were shuffled to the back of the room or left out altogether; no follow-up questions unless Bush granted them specifically… Here Bush comes, we’ll find out.

Bush starts off with a Bushism: “This has been tough weeks in that country.” Not a strong start, he already sounds like he’s having a tough time pronouncing words, and not just the foreign names.

One of his first points is to run down and besmirch al Sadr, the Muslim cleric who is our biggest (or at least most noted) thorn in Iraq at present. He talks about personally presenting purple hearts to wounded soldiers, and about the dead. “We will finish the work of the fallen.” Using the deaths of honorable soldiers to legitimize his cause again, I see.

He then directly attacks the need for more troops, and says he will send them–but quickly pirouettes back to the handover of power to the Iraqis, saying he will stick to his schedule, and continues on about how Iraq must be “independent, free, and secure.” This is a common tactic in his speech–when he addresses a difficult point, he spits it out quickly, then immediately pivots to another, more comfortable area where he can sound bold and patriotic.

He speaks of getting Fallujah back to order, wanting to put it back into the hands of Iraqi forces (because they will not go in until the fighting stops). But he also mentions the demand for the Iraqis to hand over those who mutilated the bodies of the four mercenaries; this might be a sticking point.

In talking about the handover of power, he actually invokes the U.N. presence, not to mention NATO–despite their incredibly limited role so far. He talks about bringing NATO into Iraq in stronger form, but how that will be accomplished is as yet unclear.

Ah. Here we go. This is where he drops the other shoe, letting people know that after the handover of power, we will continue to be there militarily–as I mentioned about his tactics, he steps away from that statement right quick–but he got it in there. I have long held that Bush would be in trouble trying to make people think that we’re leaving Iraq, while we will actually have a great many troops there for many, many years to come.

And now he is reaching his trembling-voice, solemn invocation of atrocities committed by our enemies. His “they’re such horrible, violent, unforgivable thugs we have no choice but to do this.” He talks about the hostages, the roadside bombs–going through a laundry list of crimes, including killing women, murdering Jews, even threatening freedoms of Americans in America. And now, a few minutes into that streak, the people fighting us in Iraq have morphed into terrorists, specifically al Qaeda.

He is finishing off that tirade with another laundry list of how the world would end if we follow any other path but that which he lays down, followed by the inevitable teary-eyed “we’re fighting for freedom” and “it’ll get harder before it gets easier.”

Okay, I have my notes on the questions, and will post the analysis so far, coming back as soon as I can with the questions and an analysis of Bush’s answers.

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