Monday, October 10, 2005

The honest answer.

The title links to the Whitehouse transcript of the press conference given by President Bush Tuesday, 10/04.

The previous post where-in I discuss the need of the Whitehouse to start governing based upon the facts as they are and not the facts as President Bush wishes them to be is very much in evidence here. Lets look at a couple of examples.

The President on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers:
I know her well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today. She'll have more experience, she'll have been a judge, but, nevertheless, her philosophy won't change.

Unless the President has suddenly gained psychic powers, this assertion simply doesn't stand the laugh test. How can anyone KNOW that another person will have the same philosophy they currently hold in 20 years? You can't even know that about yourself. And it appears that based on Miers past, she actually is prone to philosophical changes. Approximately a decade ago Miers converted from Catholicism and the Democratic party to a Protestant Republican. How does the President really know that in another decade she won't convert to Islam and become a Green? The answer obviously is he can't know what he claims he does because he's not omniscient. The honest answer here would have been "Ms. Miers may not be the most qualified candidate, but she's got my back so I've got hers".

The President on Iraq:
Q Mr. President, thank you, sir. A couple of weeks ago, you stood here in the Rose Garden with Generals Abizaid and Casey, and you cited the accomplishments regarding the standing up of Iraqi troops there; you said that there were 12 battalions that were working out of Fallujah and the western part, 20 in Baghdad, 100 across the nation. And then that afternoon, Abizaid and Casey went up to Capitol Hill, and said, well, there's one battle-ready battalion, which led some Republican senators to say, well, the situation is getting worse. So the question is, sir, it appears between what you said and what they said, something is not adding up here.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what is happening in Iraq is the following: More and more Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy. And that's important to achieve our goal. And the goal is for a stable, democratic Iraq that is an ally in the war on terror.

Right now there are over 80 army battalions fighting alongside coalition troops. Over 30 Iraqi -- I say, army battalions -- Iraqi army battalions. There are over 30 Iraqi battalions in the lead. And that is substantial progress from the way the world was a year ago.

Huh? The point of this question was how many Iraqis can actually fight without U.S. support. Clearly this number has decreased rather than increased. More and more Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy? Sure... as long as they're being driven there in American Bradleys and Humvees and have American servicemen there to hold their hands. I have no doubt that for the foreseeable future Iraqi units will be able to fight alongside Coalition forces. The President has repeatedly said "as the Iraqi's stand up, we will stand down". But if the only way they can stand up is for us to keep propping them up, everybody is left standing around not quite knowing when we will stand down. It is clear that the testimony of Generals Abizaid and Casey hardly supports the rosy outlook that President Bush is operating under. They detail a weakening of independently capable Iraqi units and that's that. All the fluff the President falls back on in public really is just numbers babble and an intended smoke cloud to obfuscate the true state of affairs. Thank goodness the Generals were under oath before Congress. It really is refreshing to get the true answers every now and then... I can only imagine the hilarity if President Bush were ever forced to tell the truth. The honest answer here would be "the ability of the Iraqi army to independently operate has been a disappointment. But frankly we are afraid to give them the equipment and training they really need because we just don't know how this is all going to wash out and we don't want to wind up arming the Teheran wing of the Shiite Army of the Islamic Republic of Iraq. So we're holding our cards close to the vest for the time being".

The President on Social Security reform:
Well, Social Security, for me, is never off; it's a long-term problem that's going to need to be addressed. When the appetite to address it is -- that's going to be up to the members of Congress. I just want to remind people, it's not going away... And I did make some progress convincing the American people there was a problem. And I'm going to continue talking about the problem

Erm... Mr President. Do you not see the inherent contradiction in this response? Social Security is not off the table for the President, it's just a matter of Congressional appetite to tackle the issue. Hello?! It's off the table Mr. President, precisely because your drive early this year to make it an issue was a flop. The Republican leadership in Congress has already said it's over . So in order to get it back on the table is going to take a pretty significant push by the Whitehouse, but evidently this wont be happening anytime soon because the President just said it's now up to the Congress to move. I mean if something is a huge issue to the President, does it make sense to then fall back to the position that it will take Congressional appetite to move the issue when the Congressional appetite clearly is not there? The honest answer here would have been: "The American people clearly are not prepared for a significant change to the Social Security system so we are putting this issue to bed".

The President on his response to Hurricane Katrina:
Q: Is there anything that you, yourself, personally, could have done, or would have done differently now?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, look, as I said the other day, to the extent that the federal government fell down on the job, I take responsibility. And I command a large, vast administration, and people I put in place, I take responsibility for the decisions they made. One area where I hope the country takes a look at is the responsibility between federal, state and local government when it comes to catastrophic events, highly-catastrophic events. In other words, is there a need to move federal assets more quickly, in spite of laws on the books that may discourage that. That's an area where I think we ought to take a good, hard look.

We have taken a look at FEMA. We've made decisions inside of FEMA. We're continuing to take a look at FEMA, to make sure FEMA is capable of dealing with an emergency of this size. And so there's a lot of analysis going on, not only to the response in the immediacy of the hurricane, but continuing to analyze, to make sure our response is a wise response.

Q But you, yourself, sir, anything you could have done?

THE PRESIDENT: I'll take responsibility -- I'll take all the responsibility for the failures at the federal level.

The question here is not so much "what do you think of the federal response to the disaster", as it is "what do you think of YOUR response to the disaster". As usual President Bush gives a long drawn out non-answer. Then when he is dragged back to the topic he takes responsibility for the federal response. There is nothing about what he could have done at the time. I'll take responsibility? How about caring enough about what happened to have an independent investigation of the matter. How about not appointing the man who oversaw this disaster of a disaster response to internally investigate the response? The honest answer here is "Yeah... Maybe I shouldn't have eaten cake with John McCain, and then the next day strummed a guitar after Katrina hit. I mean golly... To actually be seen as Marie Antoinette AND Nero while this was happening was truly a p.r. disaster. Where was Rove when that happened? Oh right... boning up for his grand jury appearance... Next question!!"

Honest answers sure can be enlightening, but don't expect them from this President.

P.S. This post was posted a few days ago and somehow I stuck it into my draft posts... So it is a bit out of context in the progression of the blog but oh well.

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