Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Bush's Press Conference

Richard Stevenson has a fairly good rundown of yesterday's Rose Garden press conference in today's New York Times, as do Richard Benedetto and Oren Dorell in USA Today and Jonathan Curl in the Washington Times. You can read the transcript of the presser or watch video via the White House site.

As usual with Bush press conference, not a whole lot of actual news was made. The president said he is "pleased with the progress" in Iraq and "I believe the Iraqi government is going to be plenty capable of dealing with" the insurgency. On Iran's nuclear weapons program, Bush said "it appears we're making some progress" in persuading the government to scrap its plans, but on North Korea he noted correctly "We've got a lot of work to do."

On Social Security reform: "I look forward to working with Congress. There is a duty to respond. There's a duty for people to bring forth their ideas. Now that people understand there's a problem, people who have been elected say, okay, here's what I intend to do about it. And we're doing our duty and I expect people from both parties to do it, as well.

Listen, I readily concede there is this attitude in Washington where, we can't work together because one party may benefit and the other party may not benefit. The people don't like that. They don't like that attitude. They expect members of both parties to come together to solve problems. And Social Security is a serious problem that requires bipartisan cooperation to solve the problem."

Bush is absolutely right. [Have I ever said that before?]. The problem is, I'm not sure he means what he says. If by "come together to solve problems" he means actually sitting down with Democrats and Republicans and devising a solution to the Social Security cooperatively, I'm all for it. If he means "we'll propose something, and you're either with us or you're against us," that's not going to work. Substantively though, the Democrats should be bringing out ideas and putting them on the table, and there ought to be some discussions about how best to tackle the solvency issue. As Lindsey Graham has suggested, that should be step one. If the president is serious about working in a bipartisan way, he should listen.

On the recent Amnesty International report: "I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that is - promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.

In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of - and the allegations - by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble - that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report."

From the mangled English in the second paragraph [which Wonkette has handled well] all the way to the number of times Bush uses 'absurd' in his response, this is really quite a statement. Not a single solitary contrite word, not even a hint that some American actions at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo have been inappropriate. And some of them have. It's all somebody else's fault. Sure, some of the allegations may have been trumped up by lying terror suspects, but others of them have been proven accurate. Sure, Amnesty International may be somewhat harsh in comparing Gitmo to a gulag. But not all of the allegations are false, and American hands are not clean. The president and his administration have a responsibility to the American people, and to the world, not to whitewash abuses committed on our watch, but to condemn them strongly, so that they never happen again. That's not what America's about.

On John Bolton's nomination: "I thought John Bolton was going to get an up or down vote on the Senate floor, just like he deserves an up or down vote on the Senate floor, and clearly he's got the votes to get confirmed. And so I was disappointed that once again, the leadership there in the Senate didn't give him an up or down vote ... Now, in terms of the request for documents, I view that as just another stall tactic, another way to delay, another way to not allow Bolton to get an up or down vote."

Possibly just as much a shot at Bill Frist ("the leadership there in the Senate") as at the Democrats, but Bush again misses the point here. The Senate is not a rubber stamp, has never been a rubber stamp on executive branch nominees. Senators have a right to request information they believe might be relevant to the nominee's confirmation, and the Administration ought to provide that information to them (or to appropriate leadership of the committees). Yes, there have been stalls in the Bolton confirmation bum's rush, but they've been important in learning more about the nominee's record. Look, I've said before, if we don't learn anything new from these documents, that's fine; Bolton probably does have the votes to get confirmed (although it's difficult to understand why). But the leadership of the Foreign Relations Committee ought to be able to see the material.

Much more to read from the press conference if you're interested - again, the transcript is here.

2 Comments:

At 10:06 AM, Blogger The Cynical Liberal said...

I sure wish my glasses were the same color as Bush's. Then the world would look so much better. A nice shade of Rose.

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

It was wrong for Amnesty International to call Gitmo a gulag. But the President's response was also bad. I've never understood why he and his administration feel the need to be so obstinate.

 

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