Michael Ubaldi, July 30, 2003.
I hope that I'm not the only one to believe that President Bush's press conference earlier today was a consummate triumph. Far from the conscience-stricken, severe man who addressed the nation on Saddam's impending judgment nearly five months earlier - drawing snickers from the press at being "medicated" - I was treated to several sound bites played on Rush's program. Believe me, the words themselves are striking but to hear the energy and confidence (and, often, understandable perturbation) was flooring. I don't believe I've ever heard the president in more expert form, not least after weeks of determined attempts to hamstring, immobilize and demoralize him.
On a reporter's Democrat meme regarding Condoleezza Rice's gossiped "resignation":
I take personal responsibility for everything I say, of course. Absolutely. I also take responsibility for making decisions on war and peace. And I analyzed a thorough body of intelligence--good, solid, sound intelligence that led me to come to the conclusion that it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
We gave the world a chance to do it. We had--remember, there was--again, I don't want to get repetitive here but it's important to remind everybody that there was 12 resolutions that came out of the United Nations because others recognized the threat of Saddam Hussein. Twelve times the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions in recognition of the threat that he posed. And the difference was is that some were not willing to act on those resolutions. We were, along with a lot of other countries, because he posed a threat. Dr. Condoleezza Rice is an honest, fabulous person, and America is lucky to have her service. Period.
The dull, wet sound you hear on playback is partisan caviling being knocked aside.
On Bush's ability to raise money, misguided "reform" or not:
QUESTION: Mr. President, with no opponent, how can you spend $170 million or more on your primary campaign?
BUSH: Just watch.
On another meme, this time regarding tax cuts and the deficit, practically straight from Terry McAuliffe's desk:
Look, we would have had deficits with or without tax cuts, for this reason: The slowdown in the economy, the decline in the stock market starting March of 2000, plus the recession, reduced the amount of revenues coming into the federal treasury.
Secondly, we spent money on the war and we spent money on homeland security. My attitude is, if we're going to put our troops into harm's way, they must have the very best. And there's no doubt we increased our budgets on defense and homeland security, so there would be recessions.
So given - I mean there would be deficits - so given the fact that we're in a recession, which had it gone on longer than it did, could have caused even more revenues to be lost to the treasury, I had a policy decision to make. And I made the decision to address the recession by a tax cut.
Now, as Andrew Sullivan and others riding on the austere side of affairs would point out, the White House has matched a generous amount of Congressional spending with its own high-budget domestic programs. Rush, about a half an hour afterward, went so far as to call Bush's behavior somewhat "Nixonian." We can argue about the ability of Bush to politically maintain his buoyancy had he remained stalwart on spending limits; for that matter, we should not take lightly the fact that Democrats are all but unable to find any traction with their favorite, waxing-Draconian aspersions of the 1990s. But all this aside, Bush made his point: the least important component of the deficit is the tax cut precisely because revenue is the most important aspect of an economy and a treasury. Spending can, with a miraculous turn of Congress, end with a penstroke - revenue from an economy can be drawn as easily as water from stone.
Later on, Bush landed a coup de grace while furthering the gentle, measured, pedagogical revelation of the world's democratization:
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about Iran, one of your other countries in the axis of evil.
One of the things we learned from that march to war is that when you start warning countries they better pay attention. Are we now in the early stages of a march to war in Iran or are they more like in the category of North Korea?
BUSH: Look, I remember right after Iraq the first thing that happened out of some writers' pens was that, "Oh, no, they're getting ready to attack either Syria or Iran.'' You know, the march to war is just a campaign that's just going to march everywhere.
All options remain on the table. I believe that the best way to deal with the Iranians at this point in time is to convince others to join us in a clear declaration that the development of a nuclear weapon is not in their interests.
I believe a free Iraq will affect the lives of Iranians. I want to thank the diaspora here in the United States, particularly in L.A...
Here's the king:
We've got a lot of our fellow citizens who are in e-mail contact, phone contact with people who live throughout Iran, and I want to thank them for that.
Interestingly enough, there's a TV station that I think people have read about that's broadcast out of L.A. by one of our citizens. He or she has footed the bill. It's widely watched.
The people of Iran are interested in freedom, and we stand by their side. We stand on the side of those who are desperate for freedom in Iran. We understand their frustrations in living in a society that is totalitarian in nature. And now is the time for the world to come together to send a clear message.
An Also Sprach Zarathustra moment in public relations, truly. For a man of an often derided, "modest" vocabulary, I have been privy to an American president and reelection candidate who very well may, politics obliging, absolutely steamroll the equivocal, vicissitudinous, empty and morose ramblings currently offered by the gaggle of his rivals.