I watched and listened to the President’s news conference last night with anger, resignation, and something like shame. After all that’s happened, even acknowledging that we know now that Saddam had no stockpile of WMDs, he still says he would have invaded Iraq. Barely an acknowledgement that the small decentralized cells of radical stateless terrorists who blew our lives apart on September 11th pose more of a direct threat to the US than Iraq and the rest of the “axis of evil” ever did. He says the August 6 PDB memo didn’t constitute a clear warning. What about “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US” is unclear? It might at least be expected to give one pause before cutting an emergency post-9/11 call for additional anti-terrorism funds from the FBI by two-thirds.
And what was up with the response to the question, “After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say? And what lessons have you learned from it?” Bush’s answer, “I wish you’d have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it… I can’t come up with something under the pressure of the press conference,” is the clearest self-articulation of Bush’s lack of self-reflective wisdom, courage and inability to handle anything unscripted that I’ve heard yet. As Queso wrote, “!?! Wow.”
And compare his non-response to the question, “you never admit a mistake. Is this a fair criticism? And do you believe you made any errors in judgment” to Richard Clarke’s unequivocal statement: “Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you….And for that failure, I would ask — once all the facts are out — for your understanding and your forgiveness.”
The folks at Pandagon echo my shame: “I hate having so little pride in my own President.” Dave Winer thinks Bush ought to resign and take the presidency of Iraq, since his focus has been there and not cleaning up troubles and threats at home. I don’t know that one has to go beyond the first part of that sentence. Bush ought to be a man, admit that he and his cabal of true believer advisors were wrong, wrong, wrong, and resign. He is unfit to be our president.
Update: Lots of good discussion around this. Thanks to one commenter for pointing out I had misquoted the title of the PDB; I’ve corrected it in line.