Bush, tonight on TV: From prepared remarks:
“In the south of Iraq, coalition forces face riots and attacks that are being incited by a radical cleric named al-Sadr. He has assembled some of his supporters into an illegal militia and publicly supported the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. …
The violence we have seen is a power grab by these extreme and ruthless elements. It’s not a civil war. It’s not a popular uprising. Most of Iraq is relatively stable. Most Iraqis by far reject violence and oppose dictatorship.
“One central commitment of that mission is the transfer of the sovereignty back to the Iraqi people. We have set a deadline of June 30th. It is important that we meet that deadline.
As a proud, independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation, and neither does America. We’re not an imperial power, as nations such as Japan and Germany can attest. We’re a liberating power, as nations in Europe and Asia can attest as well. “
During the Q and A:
“A secure and free Iraq is an historic opportunity to change the world and make America more secure. A free Iraq in the midst of the Middle East will have incredible change.
It’s hard. Freedom is not easy to achieve. I mean, we had a little trouble in our own country achieving freedom.
And we’ve been there a year. I know that seems like a long time. It seems like a long time to the loved ones whose troops have been overseas. But when you think about where the country has come from, it’s a relatively short period of time. “
“QUESTION: Mr. President, before the war, you and members of your administration made several claims about Iraq: that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators with sweets and flowers; that Iraqi oil revenue would pay for most of the reconstruction; and that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction but, as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, we know where they are.
How do you explain to Americans how you got that so wrong? And how do you answer your opponents who say that you took this nation to war on the basis of what have turned out to be a series of false premises?
BUSH: Well, let me step back and review my thinking prior to going into Iraq.
First, the lesson of September the 11th is that when this nation sees a threat, a gathering threat, we got to deal with it. We can no longer hope that oceans protect us from harm. Every threat we must take seriously.
Saddam Hussein was a threat. He was a threat because he had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people. He was a threat because he coddled terrorists. He was a threat because he funded suiciders. He was a threat to the region. He was a threat to the United States. … “
In case you were keeping track, it seems our president has taken the liberty to invent words. Yes, a quick check of Merriam-Webster online reveals that “suiciders” has been conjured out of thin air, I suspect the same way “warfighter” was. Where does that term come from? Here, from a letter to a surperior posted on the Army’s website:
“Each and every one of my Soldiers is more than simply a logistician, a computer systems analyst, or a mechanic. Each one of my Soldiers does more than simply provide support and resources to enable other Warfighters to perform their operational commitments. Each one of my Soldiers is a Warfighter. Every Soldier in Iraq serving to liberate and guarantee a future of freedom and prosperity for the Iraqi people shares the title and honor of Warfighter.”
Nope, that one is not in the dictionary either. (See more information on that word here) It seems new times demand new words: after all, if more and more of our armed forces are made up of private contractors, we can’t say soldier, and mercenary just doesn’t have a glorious ring to it.
“We’re at war. Iraq is a part of the war on terror. It is not the war on terror; it is a theater in the war on terror. And it’s essential we win this battle in the war on terror. By winning this battle, it will make other victories more certain in the war against the terrorists.
QUESTION: … Sir, you’ve made it very clear tonight that you’re committed to continuing the mission in Iraq, yet, as Terry pointed out, increasing numbers of Americans have qualms about it. And this is an election year.
QUESTION: Will it have been worth it, even if you lose your job because of it?
BUSH: I don’t plan on losing my job. I plan on telling the American people that I’ve got a plan to win the war on terror. And I believe they’ll stay with me. They understand the stakes.
Look, nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens. I don’t. It’s a tough time for the American people to see that. It’s gut-wrenching.
One of my hardest parts of my job is to console the family members …
We are in a long war. The war on terror is not going to end immediately. This is a war against people who have no guilt in killing innocent people. That’s what they’re willing to do. They kill on a moment’s notice, because they’re trying to shake our will, they’re trying to create fear, they’re trying to affect people’s behaviors. And we’re simply not going to let them do that.
And my fear, of course, is that this will go on for a while, and therefore, it’s incumbent upon us to learn from lessons or mistakes, and leave behind a better foundation for presidents to deal with the threats we face. This is the war that other presidents will be facing as we head into the 21st century. …
And the end:
“BUSH: Let’s see. Last question here. Hold on for a second. Those who yell will not be ask — I tell you a guy who I have never heard from.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
BUSH: This was — it’s a well-received …
QUESTION: Following on both Judy and John’s questions, and it comes out of what you just said in some ways, with public support for your policies in Iraq falling off the way they have, quite significantly over the past couple of months, I guess I’d like to know if you feel, in any way, that you have failed as a communicator on this topic.
BUSH: Gosh, I don’t know. I mean …
QUESTION: Well, you deliver a lot of speeches, and a lot of them contain similar phrases and may vary very little from one to the next. And they often include a pretty upbeat assessment of how things are going, with the exception of tonight. It’s pretty somber.
BUSH: A pretty somber assessment today, Don, yes.
QUESTION: But I guess I just wonder if you feel that you have failed in any way. You don’t have many of these press conferences where you engage in this kind of exchange. Have you failed in any way to really make the case to the American public?
BUSH: You know, that’s, I guess, if you put it into a political context, that’s the kind of thing the voters will decide next November. That’s what elections are about. They’ll take a look at me and my opponent and say, let’s see, which one of them can better win the war on terror? Who best can see to it that Iraq emerges a free society?
And, Don, you know, if I tried to fine-tune my messages based upon polls, I think I’d be pretty ineffective. I know I would be disappointed in myself.
I hope today you’ve got a sense of my conviction about what we’re doing. If you don’t, maybe I need to learn to communicate better.
I feel strongly about what we’re doing. I feel strongly it’s the course this administration is taking will make America more secure and the world more free and, therefore, the world more peaceful. It’s a conviction that’s deep in my soul. And, you know, I will say it as best I possibly can to the American people.
I look forward to the debate in the campaign. I look forward to helping — for the American people to hear, you know, what is the proper use of American power. Do we have an obligation to lead, or should we shirk responsibility? That’s how I view this debate.
And I look forward to making it. Don, I’ll do it the best I possibly can. I’ll give it the best shot. I’ll speak as plainly as I can.
One thing is for certain, though, about me, and the world has learned this: When I say something, I mean it. And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important for keeping world peace and freedom.
Thank you all very much. “
1. “It’s not a civil war.”
2. “We’re not an imperial power”
3. “… maybe I need to learn to communicate better”