Extreme softball. They didn’t have to submit the questions in advance because Russert did not ask one question that was a surprise, in order to catch Bush unprepared so the country could see how he responds. Did he ask ANY follow-up questions? For example, on Bush’s military record Russert did not follow up and ask why Bush refused to take his medical exam and stopped flying, after the government had spent over $1 million to train him as a pilot. That is a very important question and the public has the right to know the answer. The press has an obligation to ask, and Russert did not.
One thing for sure, the focus groups have found that “not going to trust a madman” is working better than other phrases. He used the word “madman” over and over again.
On the U.N., keep in mind that we’re talking about a country that DID NOT HAVE weapons:
“You mentioned “preemption.” If I might, I went to the United Nations and said, Here is what we know, you know, at this moment, and you need to act. After all, you are the body that issued resolution after resolution after resolution, and he ignored those resolutions.
So, in other words, when you say “preemption,” it almost sounds like, Well, Mr. President, you decided to move. What I decided to do was to go to the international community and see if we could not disarm Saddam Hussein peacefully through international pressure.
You remember U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 clearly stated show us your arms and destroy them, or your programs and destroy them. And we said, there are serious consequences if you don’t. That was a unanimous verdict. In other words, the worlds of the U.N. Security Council said we’re unanimous and you’re a danger. So, it wasn’t just me and the United States. The world thought he was dangerous and needed to be disarmed.
And, of course, he defied the world once again.
In my judgment, when the United States says there will be serious consequences, and if there isn’t serious consequences, it creates adverse consequences. People look at us and say, they don’t mean what they say, they are not willing to follow through.”
But these were resolutions saying Iraq should disarm. DISARM WHAT? And of course, no follow up: “Mr. President, you made a terrible mistake and got us into a war. Now there are over 10,000 Iraqi dead, over 500 American dead, the country is flat broke, the military is dangerously overextended and the country has no credibility in the world. Shouldn’t there be consequences for mistakes of such magnitude?”
On free elections in Iraq — simple evasion.
Russert: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that, and would that be better for the United States than Saddam Hussein?
President Bush: They’re not going to develop that. And the reason I can say that is because I’m very aware of this basic law they’re writing. They’re not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.
I remember speaking to Mr. al Hakim here, who is a fellow who has lost 63 family members during the Saddam reign. His brother was one of the people that was assassinated early on in this past year. I expected to see a very bitter person. If 63 members of your family had been killed by a group of people, you would be a little bitter. He obviously was concerned, but he I said, you know, I’m a Methodist, what are my chances of success in your country and your vision? And he said, it’s going to be a free society where you can worship freely. This is a Shiia fellow.
And my only point to you is these people are committed to a pluralistic society. And it’s not going to be easy. The road to democracy is bumpy. It’s bumpy particularly because these are folks that have been terrorized, tortured, brutalized by Saddam Hussein.
In other words, they won’t choose an Islamist government because the people WE have chosen to set up the government aren’t Islamists. No follow-up from Russert on what happens if the people of Iraq vote for different leaders than the ones we have set up.
This guy is in way over his head.