Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Blogging Bush's Press Conference

Since my live blogging of Nader's speech didn't work out, I'll try it again, this time with Bush's press conference. This time I'm in my living room with my home wireless network, so there are no connectivity worries.

8:31 PM -- President starts opening statement.

8:32 PM -- Three groups: Ba'athists in Fallujah, outside terrorists, and al-Sadr. Long condemnation of Sadr. He's calling the violence a power grab by these extreme faction.

8:33 PM -- He's making the case that most Iraqis don't support the uprising. True enough, but it would be better if they weren't so dedicated to neutrality in the present situation.

8:35 PM -- Bush is praising the troops and saying we will push for success. He will send more troops and resources if needed.

8:36 PM -- He's saying we have to keep the June 30th turnover. Now he's saying that the Iraqis will have to manage their own affairs, and that that's what will happen in Fallujah. [I guess that's why we pulled back, to try to give the Iraqis the ability to do their job.] Part of the demand [to the Fallujah militants] is that they turn over those responsible for killing and mutilating the contractors.

8:39 PM -- He's saying we will use force necessary to maintain order and protect troops.

8:40 PM -- He's discussing how the transition will proceed, both for the turnover, the constitution, and the election (January). [While there's a timetable, a lot of the details are still being worked out, with help from the UN special envoy.]

8:41 PM -- He's sending Armitage to talk to Iraq's neighbors. It's stated positively, but I wonder if it's to "dialogue" or "threaten." He also accidentally called Rumsfeld Secretary of State.

8:43 PM -- He's saying that we must hold firm in Iraq, since it is a meeting place of the civilized world (us) and terrorism, and that we cannot back down.

8:45 PM -- Bush is reviewing terrorist attacks, starting from the Beirut bombing, to the World Trade Center.

8:47 PM -- Any concession will only embolden them. Now, we're fighting against them at full force. They're desperate, and the work may get harder as we go on, but to give up will make things much worse.

8:50 PM -- First question: Is Iraq vietnam? Answer: No. But this is hard work. We've been there a year, but it's a relatively short time and we've made progress.

8:51 PM -- Next question: How long will troops be there? Are we sending more? Answer: We'll send troops if Abizaid asks for them, and it looks like he wants them now. Troops will be there as long as necessary. They'll be there after turnover, and we'll need to train Iraqis better.

8:54 PM -- Next question: How'd you get so much wrong? WMDs, greeted as liberators. Answer: WMD: The calculus had changed. We're less tolerant than we were then. Liberators: Iraqis are afraid, reluctant to step up.

[If you look at the old news reports, we were greeted as liberators when we first arrived. Gratitude doesn't last very long, does it?]

8:58 PM -- Next question: Do you feel personal responsibility for 9/11? Answer: In hindsight, of course there are things I would have done different, but hindsight is 20/20. Country was not on war footing.

9:00 PM -- Next question: Why won't you ever admit a mistake? Answer: [Not on point, but he thinks he overall did the right thing.]

[The point is that what he views as mistakes is very different from what the press views as mistakes. The only way he can "admit mistakes" to their satisfaction is to say "you were right and I was wrong," and I don't think he's going to do that, because he doesn't believe that.]

9:02 PM -- Next question: PDB warned of hijackings. Answer: Warning about bin Laden--nothing new. Report on FBI conducting field investigations--looked like good news.

I think it's kind of weak response.

9:07 PM -- Next question: Was PDB valid? [Some question as to whether the information on 70 FBI investigations was accurate.] Answer: I have no more information than you do, but I intend to find out.

9:08 PM -- Question: Will you be giving an apology like Clarke's? Answer: Osama bin Laden is the one responsible. We will bring them to justice.

9:10 PM -- Question: Is the coalition real? The other countries make a much smaller contribution than we do. Answer: There are people from other countries sacrificing their lives, why should we demean our allies?

9:12 PM -- He keeps bringing it back to making the case for the importance of freedom in Iraq, and the importance to pursuing the war on terror.

9:15 PM -- Question: You are being accused of waiting too long on al Qaeda, but not long enough on Iraq. Answer: Country was not on a war footing, and moving against Afghanistan would have been difficult before 9/11. After 9/11, our threshold is much lower now. We've had some success because of this: Libya, A.Q. Khan.

9:17 PM -- Question: If you lose your job, will it be worth it? Answer: I don't think I'll lose. I think the American people understand that, and will stay with me. They may decide to vote against me, but I don't think that will happen.

9:22 PM -- The soldiers are very motivated, very high morale.

9:22 PM -- Question: What's your biggest mistake since 9/11? Answer: Still would have gone into Iraq. Don't know what my biggest mistake is, only know that in retrospect. [Personally, I think how he made the case on Iraq was the biggest mistake. It should have been stated as the completion of the 1991 Gulf War.]

9:25 PM -- Question: Do you intend to split FBI's two divisions? Answer: I'm looking for input, it hasn't been decided yet.

[Probably not, from the looks of it.]

9:30 PM -- Question: Have you failed as a communicator? Answer: That will be decided in November. I don't fine-tune [the message] according to polls.

Update: Glenn Reynolds gives a much more detailed blow-by-blow of the press conference. I'm jealous, but I guess that's why he's the Instapundit and I'm just a low-level blogger.

Update: I did some cleaning up, with substantive additions put in brackets [like this]. I think the effort of juggling Blogger's interface took a lot out of the writing. I did better pseudo-live-blogging Ralph Nader, where connection problems kept me from posting during the talk, but I could type continuously and post it afterwards.

New Post: My personal thoughts above.

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