Home > Main, Political Ranting > Bush Press Conference, 4/13/2004: Questions Part II

Bush Press Conference, 4/13/2004: Questions Part II

April 14th, 2004

When asked by White House correspondent John King about the dismally small number of foreign troops and how calling them an “international coalition” is more fiction and window dressing than truth, Bush took a page out of the book using dead soldiers’ honor to protect himself: “I don’t think people ought to demean the contributions of our friends into Iraq.” Same thing he sometimes says when people claim his war in Iraq is not justified, how dare you suggest that those soldiers died in vain–something I first heard from Reagan about the marines in Lebanon and his blunder in sending them there.

Bush actually did take this line with the soldiers in Iraq as well, saying “One of the things that’s very important … is to never allow our youngsters to die in vain. And I made that pledge to their parents. Withdrawing from the battlefield of Iraq would be just that, and it’s not going to happen under my watch.” In saying so, tying the soldiers’ sacrifice to his own political agenda. As I’ve written before, bushpc3this cowardly, slimy and opportunistic perversion of using the honor of those who have served and given their lives, just to protect a politician’s hide and further his agenda–it makes me physically ill.

Bush also likened what is happening in Iraq to what happened in Japan after WWII–he wondered what things would have been like if we had “blown the peace” with them, and not brought Japan back in line as a responsible world citizen. Of course, three problems there: first, Iraq now is not Japan then, the two are worlds apart and the on-the-ground situations in both places are hardly comparable; second, Japan was far more necessary to attack, far more a threat to world peace, than Iraq ever was; and third, Bush is currently helping Japanese right-wingers deconstruct the post-WWII nation that we built, tearing down one of the single most important postwar imperatives, that Japan’s military be oriented toward self-defense only.

Reporters tried to ask questions without Bush calling on them first; Bush smirked and said, “I’ve got some must-calls, I’m sorry.” It did not appear that Bush had any spontaneous calls during the press conference–as it was a year ago, he likely called only from his list this time again.

When asked about whether he waited too long to confront terrorism and went too quickly into Iraq, Bush again retreated to the “we weren’t on a war footing” excuse, that there was nothing we could do about al Qaeda before 9/11 changed the world–but on preemptively striking Iraq, Bush brought up Libya, which stands out as a phenomenal crock. He acted, as most conservatives do, as if Libya were intransigent and aggressive until Bush invaded Iraq, then their knees turned to jelly and they shot up the white flag in fear that Bush might catch them, too. What a pile of manure that is. Libya wanted to stop U.N. sanctions and get back into the international community, and he started with Clinton, long before Iraq was invaded. Libya offering up its paltry WMD program was simply them taking advantage of the Iraq war to make it look like they were taking giant strides to atone for past behavior and so win points that would help them out. But give up WMD because they feared Bush? That’s a joke, and a bad one. Libya knows just like everyone else that America is now over-extended and cannot just go romping into Northern Africa–and we weren’t even much on their case in terms of WMD. Bush’s claim is a lie and a scam, pure and simple.

Then he had the gall to bring up A. Q. Khan’s leaking of nuclear secrets to Iran and other countries as if that were a great example of us winning the war on terror. Beg pardon? We caught Pakistan doing this–far too late, unfortunately–and let them blame it all on one guy, and then we let them pardon the one guy. that’s a victory in the war on terror? No, it’s not–it’s another bad joke.

This is where Bush was asked about his greatest mistake, and Bush wormed around, trying to have it both ways–both admitting to having made mistakes, but not telling what any of them were. “I hope – I don’t want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I’m confident I have. I just haven’t – you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.” Yeah. Sure. Amidst a list of things he went on about that he felt were not mistakes, Bush alluded to the WMD–and again justified his claims in any way he could, again bringing forth this Charlie Duelfer guy as if he were the final word in WMD, and the tired claims that somehow WMD were in there and the Iraqi people are still so terrified of Saddam Hussein that they just can’t bring themselves to tell us where they are. By the end of the question, Bush had turned his answer into one for a question about how evil Hussein was and how there really are WMD just waiting for us to find them.

In his answer to Ann Compton of ABC News about intelligence reform, Bush turned and pivoted until he was saying this:

I also have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country’s gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in this world.

And as the greatest power on the face of the earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. We have an obligation to help feed the hungry. I think the American people find it interesting that we’re providing food for the North Korea people who starve.

We have an obligation to lead the fight on AIDS, on Africa. And we have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That’s our obligation. That is what we have been called to do, as far as I’m concerned.

Okay, first, with this thing about God talking to him again, it may work with some but it’s starting to get a lot of people worried, those at least who heard the relatively suppressed news report that Bush once stated that God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

bushpc4Then there’s the idea that Bush was responsible for feeding people in North Korea–that was a program started under Clinton that Republicans have attacked him for, as being too friendly and appeasing; Bush has let the North Korean situation degrade so far that a few days ago, North Korea publicly announced that Bush is “driving the military situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.” And AIDS in Africa is something that Bush promised but has not followed through on. How duplicitous can this guy be and still get away with it like he does?

Finally, he called on Don Gonyea of NPR, who asked Bush if he failed as a communicator, failed to make his case. To which, Bush said we’d have to wait to see what voters say in November–and then went straight into what was obviously a well-rehearsed ending statement to wrap things up. “I hope today you’ve got a sense of my conviction … the course this administration is taking will make America more secure and the world more free … It’s a conviction that’s deep in my soul.”

He even managed to take a swipe at Kerry, implying that a vote for him was one for leadership, and a vote for Kerry was one to shirk responsibility. Cute.

Two points I’d like to make. First: reporters are spineless. I remember a day when reporters used to respond to a president’s statement with the words, “But Mr. President,” and then take on the president about a misstatement or obvious obfuscation he’d made. Bush told a long string of whoppers here, and the reporters just let them slide by.

Second, the media analysis after the press conference. I had to ask myself if these people had really watched the same press conference I had. Everyone was glowing about how Bush handled himself so well, made his case so well on Iraq and national defense. My father put it in a more understandable light, pointing out that the bar has been set so low (Bush did call himself the master of lowered expectations), and Bush’s more outrageous lies were on things that won’t necessarily come back to bite him–for example, he could lie about North Korea, AIDS in Africa, the claims about details in WMD, or what exactly the 9/11 warnings were in terms of hijackings or using planes–that most of the public is not well enough versed to catch on to stuff like that. I agree to a point, but frankly, that’s supposed to be the job of the press–to inform people on such things–and it is clear that the mainstream press is just as content to stay at the same removed, uneducated level of analysis and criticism that most Americans seem to have nowadays.

That needs to change, and I would be just as happy if that changed at the start of a new Kerry administration–so long as it continues into the next Republican administration as well. But I’m not holding my breath.

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  1. Leah
    April 16th, 2004 at 10:50 | #1

    Bush does have values. He is a man who seeks God first- which is how it should be. Let’s face it, you and all other anti-Christian-values Democrats would find fault with him on ANY issue. I hope that people like you won’t be elected into office. I feel sorry for you- it’s obvious you believe all of the slanted information you receive from the mostly liberal media sources within our world today. Wake up and see what good Bush has done as President. And get some morals while you are at it.

  2. Luis
    April 16th, 2004 at 11:11 | #2

    Actually, if you read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not to mention read the history of separation of church and state, you’ll see that this country was not in the least meant to be a theocracy. If Bush receives strength from his religion, then great, but if he uses religion as a template for action, then he is violating his oath of office.

    As for us “anti-Christian-values Democrats,” you clearly are swiping at some vague image you have created in your mind. Most Democrats I know are not anti-Christian, and our candidate, in fact, is Catholic. But we understand how vital the separation of church and state is. The combination of church and state, historically, has brought devastation to the religious freedom of the people and to the sanctity of the religion itself. Why did the first American settlers come here, after all? Didn’t you read your history?

    We Democrats have excellent values, we simply know that the religious values we hold are private, and are dangerous at the political level because they will disenfranchise others and take away from their civil and religious liberties.

    As for the “liberal media,” that is a myth that even conservatives like Bill Krystol and Rush Limbaugh have admitted is untrue. It is a myth invented by the right to change perception to their favor. Air America Radio is the first true example of “liberal media,” and it is brand-new–until now, the airwaves have been dominated by right-wing demagogues like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Robert Novak, George Will, Oliver North, G. Gordon Liddy, Laura Ingraham, “Doctor” Laura Schlessinger, Bill O’Reilly, William Kristol, William Safire, John McLaughlin, Tucker Carlson, Bill Bennett, Matt Drudge, Pat Buchanan, Bay Buchanan, Pat Robertson, William F. Buckley, Sean Hannity, Jonah Goldberg, Brit Hume, and several dozen more.

    The “liberal bias” has been in the form of a slight majority of reporters being privately liberal, without any evidence whatsoever that this bias enters their reporting–while two thirds of all editors and publishers–the people who have the real power in the media to choose the content and tone of what reporters say–are conservatives. And that bias does show, as it does with Fox News, and as it does when publishers endorse presidential candidates.

    It is you that I feel sorry for, unable to see the real harm and damage that can come when church and state merge, and apparently unable to discern what the right-wing media feeds you from the reality of the world, assuming that entire groups–or simply those that disagree with you–have no religion, ethics or morals. Your short missive here does not demonstrate much ability on your part to actually think for yourself, and that is an unenviable state to be in, considering the great freedoms this wonderful country allows for your mind to roam and for truth to be sought.

  3. April 25th, 2004 at 22:11 | #3

    Well said, Luis!

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