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Two Days Late and Two Dollars Short: Press Conference by the President

October 13, 2006

We’re nothing at the Stump if not unafraid to post on days old news, long after other people already have. That said, here are some random thoughts about Wednesday’s press conference.

Here’s what OFFAL had to say about the recent Medical Study that places the number of Iraqi deaths resulting from the war around 665,000:

Q …A group of American and Iraqi health officials today released a report saying that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the Iraq war. That figure is 20 times the figure that you cited in December, at 30,000. Do you care to amend or update your figure, and do you consider this a credible report?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t consider it a credible report. Neither does General Casey and neither do Iraqi officials. I do know that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me and it grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they’re willing to — that there’s a level of violence that they tolerate. And it’s now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel at peace. [Emphasis added.]

What does it matter that so many are dying? The Iraqi people are loving it! They eat the death toll up, they love Freedom so much! Death is very liberating!

—or—

What’s this got to do with our complete inability to maintain order as occupying power? It’s that trifling Iraqi Government that’s supposed to handle security. We said we’d leave once the Iraqis could take care of their own, right? Well it’s time they got up off their narrow butts and started doing it.

(We’re the guy who teaches his toddler how to swim by throwing him in the deep end and encouraging him, shouting, “Swim, boy! Aint nobody gonna come in there and get ya!”)

—or—

“What the fuck did he just say?” (Digs finger in ear to clear out any potential obstructions.) For the 14,637th time, “I can’t believe what I just thought I heard. I had to have heard wrong, right?”

And this:

[Continued from above.] No question, it’s violent, but this report is one — they put it out before, it was pretty well — the methodology was pretty well discredited. But I talk to people like General Casey and, of course, the Iraqi government put out a statement talking about the report.

Q — the 30,000, Mr. President? Do you stand by your figure, 30,000?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I stand by the figure. A lot of innocent people have lost their life — 600,000, or whatever they guessed at, is just — it’s not credible. Thank you. [Emphasis added.]

I heard this quote on the radio. Now, I’m not saying the White House intentionally suppresses and/or supplements punctuation to alter the meaning of what was spoken, but those “bolded” sentences above don’t correctly reproduce what I heard. I’d transcribe it thus: “You know, I stand by the figure a lot of innocent people have lost their life. 600,000, or whatever they guessed at, is just — it’s not credible.” That is, he stands by the figure ‘a lot of innocent people.’ As in:

Q: “How many? 30,000? 100,000? 426,369?”

A: “A lot.”

Alls I’m sayin is, from what I heard, I don’t think he was standing by the estimate — which, after all, would be kind of ridiculous — considering that it was an old estimate, and thousands of people a month have been dying since then. Interesting what the written record says, though, isn’t it?

And a later so-fucking-fantastic-you-don’t-want-to-miss-it bit of doublespeak bumblespeak:

Q …one of the things Democrats complain about is the way you portray their position —

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, really?

Q — in wanting to fight the war on terror. They would say you portray it as either they support exactly what you want to do, or they want to do nothing. We hear it in some of your speeches. Is it fair to portray it to the American people that way?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it’s fair to use the words of the people in Congress or their votes. The vote was on the Hamdan legislation: Do you want to continue a program that enabled us to interrogate folks, or not? And all I was doing was reciting the votes. [Emphasis added.]

“Do you want me to participate strongly in our political discourse, or never say anything intelligent or substantive about the views of my political opponents ever, at all?”

“Uh, that’s another false dichotomy, sir.”

While, that clipped part of OFFAL‘s answer was so perfect as it is, his further explanation was pretty sweet, too:

(Continued from above.) [THE PRESIDENT:] I would cite my opponent in the 2004 campaign when he said there needs to be a date certain from which to withdraw from Iraq. I characterize that as cut and run because I believe it is cut and run. In other words, I’ve been using either their votes or their words to characterize their positions.

Q But they don’t say cut and run.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, they may not use cut and run, but they say date certain is when to get out, before the job is done. That is cut and run. Nobody has accused me of having a real sophisticated vocabulary, I understand that. And maybe their — their words are more sophisticated than mine. But when you pull out before the job is done, that’s cut and run as far as I’m concerned. And that’s cut and run as far as most Americans are concerned. And so, yes, I’m going to continue reminding them of their words and their votes.

I’m not going to eviscerate the argument. I don’t have the energy just now. But something he said reminds me of one of my Dad’s old George Carlin records. He was talking about Vietnam:

We’re always afraid of pulling out. “Pull out? Doesn’t sound manly to me, Bill. Let’s leave it in there, get the job done!” Because that’s what we’re doing to that country, after all…” —George Carlin

White House: Press Conference by the President

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3 Comments
  1. October 15, 2006 7:47 AM

    With a small burst of energy: the conclusion of the logic that Bush puts together re: “cut and run” is: if setting a date for withdrawal unequivocally means “pull out before the job is done” then there is no possibility of withdrawal – a date on which withdrawal is possible will never occur. Or: there is no possibility of a planned ending to the occupation.

  2. October 15, 2006 9:01 AM

    Ok, that last comment was a lot too obvious. My apologies, I’m a bit sleepy.

  3. October 16, 2006 10:42 AM

    But he slips the noose illogic by declaring his exit strategery as “victory,” the definition of which is apparently a state secret; but we can assume “victory” means “permanent occupation.”

    Which is pretty much what you said. So I should probably appologize as well.

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