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Saturday, June 11, 2005 

President Bush stumbles badly at Tuesday press conference

I fancy that yesterday's press conference will come to be considered one of George Bush's greatest PR disasters. He bungled the DSM question in a way that I think will come back to haunt him.

The recently developed Republican talking-points were never great. By necessity, they tend to avoid what the Downing Street Memo (DSM) actually says and try instead to convince the public that it is inaccurate or not credible. But the talking-points are going to be much less use now in getting Bush clear of this scandal. For one thing, he failed to challenge the validity of DSM directly. Thus hereafter it will be very difficult for his apologists to argue that DSM is forged, or 4th hand, or incompetently drafted. The first, of course, is what his most ardent supporters have wanted to argue (in so far as they're willing to acknowledge the existence of DSM at all).

Worse yet, Bush made an unforced error that will help the truth brigade to wrap this scandal around his shoulders. He made a statement so egregiously at odds with the entire tenor of DSM, and with many of its specific statements, and so implausible on the face of it, that it focuses attention almost inevitably upon Bush's credibility. It should suck the air out of the remaining talking-points pretty effectively, and concentrate attention on how Bush can explain this exceedingly implausible statement.

Worse still for President Bush's reputation, in this statement he claimed to have worked for what many Americans now yearn for--a peaceful resolution of the Iraqi situation. Peacemaking is Bush's weakest suit, and it has been since the first mutterings about an Iraq war in the spring and summer of 2002. Yet Bush now has made his weakest suit the focus of what is likely to become a story about whether George Bush has any credibility left. At least, we need to ensure that the story turns in that direction.

The facts are striking. Bush, standing next to Tony Blair, claimed that their conversations, before the July 23, 2002 meeting recorded by DSM, had ALL been about how to find a peaceful solution (to what exactly is unclear--non-existent WMDs?). To borrow the President's own words, 'nothing could be farther from the truth.'

The discussions recorded on DSM have virtually nothing to say about any possible peaceful resolution to the standoff with Hussein. Instead, they are entirely about how to get the impending war started, how to wage it, and how to justify it to the public. There is no hint in any of the reports by British officials at this meeting to suggest that any of them had discussed a peaceful resolution with their American counterparts. Even the 'U.N. route' is seen by the British (who conceived it and want to push it on the Bush administration) as a way of backing Hussein into a corner so that he will presumably refuse to admit any new weapons inspectors--and voila, a pretext for war.

So the American public will have to wonder, once they've read DSM for themselves, where all the talk of peace is. The sad truth appears to be that President Bush continues to do what he has been doing since early 2002: He's deliberately deceiving the nation about his policies on Iraq.

 posted by smintheus  # 12:16 AM  

This is all make believe.

What else yah got?
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