Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another Press Conference from Dear Leader

He's dancing as fast as he can, and it seems that he's changed tempo somewhat. From Salon's War Room:
This wasn't exactly a Jimmy Carter "malaise" moment, but it was George W. Bush doing what he doesn't do often: admitting that the United States never found WMD in Iraq, admitting that there have been a lot of discouraging developments in Iraq, admitting that some Iraqi security forces have performed below expectations, admitting that a lot of American soldiers have been killed in the war. Bush went so far as to mention's October's U.S. death toll -- 93 so far -- and to acknowledge that this month has been the deadliest in Iraq since November 2004. He said that the American people aren't satisfied with the war in Iraq, and that he isn't satisfied with the way the war has gone, either.

What Bush didn't do: chart a significantly different path for the future. When the president finally got around to taking questions, NBC's David Gregory asked him why he was abandoning his "stay the course" rhetoric and why U.S. officials were suddenly talking about "timetables" and "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government. The president suggested that the benchmarks he has in mind now aren't really all that benchmark-y. "What we're asking [Iraq] to do is, 'When do you think you can get this done?'" Bush said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has already given his answer: We'll get things done when we're ready to get things done, and "no one has the right to impose a timetable" on the Iraqi government's progress. Bush was asked about Maliki's comments this morning. He said Maliki is right if he meant that "benchmarks can't be imposed on Iraq by an outside force." "This is a sovereign government," Bush said, "but we're working closely with the government to say here's ... what we expect to happen next."
The WaPo's Dan Froomkin adds, after noting that the President stated that he owed "an explanation to the American people":
Bush didn't have much new to say today, other than endorsing yesterday's already largely debunked announcement in Baghdad of a "new plan" that sounds very much like the old plan.

And after an hour of familiar sound bites, the public would be forgiven for feeling it still hasn't gotten that explanation he promised.

Among the things that remain unexplained:

* Why does Bush believe that staying in Iraq will make things better, when the evidence suggests that it keeps making things worse?

* Why does he believe that progress is being made, when the evidence suggests that Iraq is sliding deeper and deeper into civil war?

* Why does he remain confident in Iraq's central government, when the evidence suggests that the center is not holding?

* Why hasn't anyone in his administration been held accountable for all the things that have gone wrong?


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