After his news conference, President Bush had an hour-long meeting on Wednesday with some conservative journalists to amplify his positions in a more friendly setting.
Some of his talk was off the record, but a substantial portion is available for viewing. The transcript, as provided by the National Review, is linked below.
The "Grand Ideological Struggle"
It's enlightening, and scary, to hear President Bush begin his comments. He refers to a "grand ideological struggle, which he defines as follows:
It is a struggle between moderate people, and a struggle between ideologues who are totalitarian and kill to achieve an objective without conscience. It's interesting, here in America, I ran into a kid the other day who used to work here and he goes to a famous law school, and he said, the problem, Mr. President, is people don't believe we're at war. I not only believe we're at war, I know we're at war. My biggest issue that I think about all the time is the next attack on America, because I am fully aware that there are people out there that would like nothing more than to have another spectacular moment by killing the American people. And they're coming. And we've got to do everything we can to stop them. That's why I believe we ought to listen to their phone calls, obviously on a limited basis, one coming out of the country, and why I know we need to interrogate these people. That's why we need the Patriot Act. That's why we need to be on the offense all the time. Iraq is the central part of this global war right now. The extremists, radicals have made it clear that they want us to leave. You know, it's an interesting world in which people are not willing to listen to the words of an enemy, but in this case, we're able to listen to the enemy and find out what the enemy thinks and publish their thoughts. The Commander-in-Chief must listen carefully and take their words extremely seriously.It's fascinating to hear him refer to himself as the Commander-in-Chief, as if he is stepping into somebody else's cowboy boots.
How soon after Bush proclaimed "mission accomplished" did this "war" begin? We invaded Iraq and ousted their leader. If we are at war, who are we at war with and how will we know if the war is won?
As for his rationale for the removal of civil liberties in the name of 'the war on terror,' I don't believe a word of it. If George Bush were sincere he would have admitted that he always had the power to listen in on the phone calls of terrorists. The ONLY reason for seeking to spy without a warrant is that it gives one the opportunity to spy on political enemies. But then, he is Commander-in-Chief.
Bush The Lecturer
Something one notices right off the bat is his quirky way of talking to these reporters. Hey, I realize that many of these people are actually GOP cheerleaders, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and use the 'j' word.
The first question that you must ask a President — you can put this any way you want — I'm not asking myself questions, but you should be asking me — is, do you trust Maliki? Is he the right guy to show the courage necessary to achieve the objective? And the answer is, I think he is.He's not asking himself questions, but this is the question! It's obvious that Bush has a serious need for maintaining complete control over his environment. His completely staged campaign stops when he was running for re-election fit neatly into this scenario.
Stay The Course, Defined...Again
Stay the course means we win.
(General Casey's) judgment is a lot more refined than anybody else's that I hear from, because he's there, he's living this issue, he wants to succeed. He is constantly adjusting our game plan. This stuff about "stay the course" — stay the course means, we're going to win. Stay the course does not mean that we're not going to constantly change.How many times are we going to be subjected to a new definition of "stay the course" that Bush thinks will cause the perception of what he is doing to turn positive? Just like our 'mission' in Iraq, I am sure we will find many new incarnations of this definition down the road.
The President Doesn't Control Iraq Policy, General Casey Does
How else to explain the following, a variation of what was said earlier:
I told them in the press conference today, last spring I thought we were going to be able to say to the American people, we'll have a lot fewer troops in Iraq. You know why I thought that? Because that's what General Casey thought. He felt like the situation was progressing to the point where he was going to be able to let them go, to a much greater extent — let them go defend themselves to a much greater extent than turned out to be, because of this al Qaeda-inspired sectarian violence. And so he says, look, this thing isn't going to — we need more troops, not less. And so what happens is, is that I say, okay, whatever you need. You want more troops, you've got more troops. You want less troops, we'll have less troops, but please give me the rationale why.Oh, and in case you missed it, it's not sectarian violence between the Sunni and the Shiites, it's "al Qaeda-inspired sectarian violence."
There is much more to this presidential meeting with the conservative image-peddlers and I urge you to read the full text yourselves to see what rationale people, grounded in reality, are up against.
The transcript is available at NRO here.