Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another Press Conference

Ay, it's way too early in the morning for this. But it's press conference time on the east coast, so here we go.

The focus was Iraq. Interestingly, Iraq's oil resources finally merited being mentioned more than once as a key factor to the conflict:
If we do not defeat the terrorists and extremists in Iraq, they will gain control over vast oil reserves and use them to overthrow moderate governments across the Middle East. They will launch new attacks toward their goal of a vast Islamic extremist empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia.
What Iraq could look like is what Afghanistan used to look like. Imagine the safe haven for the enemy with the resources Iraq has.

I don't recall any prior statements explicitly listing "keeping Iraq's oil from falling into al-Qaida hands" as a primary goal, nor do I recall other references to a vast Islamic empire. The latter feels particularly ominous (not the spectre of such an empire, but rather of a government that is certain it is fighting against the possibility) in light of these somewhat apocalyptic statements (bolded neocon code words my own conjecture):
Defeating the extremists and terrorists will define the course of this new century. The outcome of this war will determine the destiny of millions of people across the world. It is the calling of this generation.

Maybe it's just me, but I get nervous when W starts talking about destiny. Particularly when he casts himself as a major player in determining its course.

Buzzword watch: References to adapting/shifting tactics/being flexible: 1, 2, 3, 4 in fewer than 45 seconds. 5, 6. 7. 8, 9, 10. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Oops, earlier expectations to the contrary, "a way forward" is gaining ground. Parties looking for a way forward now include the US government, the Iraqi government, the American people, the Iraqi people, and Kim Jong Il.

Definition time: Victory in Iraq is now apparently defined as helping the Iraqi government get control over more of their country. Victory is a government that can sustain itself and defend yourself and protect itself and govern its country and be an ally in the war on terror. Fixed timetable for withdrawal means defeat.

Question and answer time. Well, "answer" is a bit generous in this case; it would be far more accurate to say "rolling the word dice and stringing together sentences that only obliquely address the questions that were posed." The word dice include these helpful phrases: a way forward, shifting tactics, benchmarks, security, protect, terrorists and extremists, adapting, situation on the ground, generals on the ground, leave before the job is done, defend and govern and sustain itself, timetables, changing tactics.

David Gregory: When you reject timetables but set benchmarks for the Iraqi government that must be met, why shouldn't the American people conclude that this is just semantics and, two weeks before the elections, just politics?

W: There is a significant difference between benchmarks and a timetable for withdrawal. This is a sovereign government. We're showing them a way forward for their people. We're asking them, when do you think you're gonna get this done? That is substantially different from saying we want a time certain for getting out of Iraq. Benchmarks are a way to win. A timetable for withdrawal means we lose.

Saying "a way forward" means never having to actually answer a question.

Another reporter, sorry, didn't catch the name: You say the definition of failure is leaving before job is done, but you don't want to see our troops standing in the crossfire of sectarian violence or all-out civil war, so how do you reconcile those two statements?

W: Our job is to prevent wholesale fullscale civil war from happening in the first place. That there's a political way forward. Government defend itself, sustain itself. We will work to prevent that from happening. This is a struggle between radicals and extremists who are trying to prevent there being a democracy. If we were to withdraw before the job is done it would embolden extremists. You're asking me hypotheticals. Our job is to make sure there is not one.

So glad to hear that the 80+ people being killed by sectarian death squads in Baghdad every day are not the victims of a civil war. Because that would just be, you know, wrong.

Uh, another reporter: How do you plan to measure Maliki's success in meeting the banchmarks, and what will you do if he doesn't meet them?

W: The first step is to work with the Maliki government to develop benchmarks to achieve different goals, to assure the Iraqi people that the government is going to make the difficult decisions to move forward and achieve their goals. We have to work with this sovereign government to come up with a way to move forward.

Saying "a way forward" means never having to actually answer a question.

Finally, W boils down the upcoming elections to the basics: Which party has the plan that will enable our ecomony to continue to grow, and which party has the plan that will protect this country? The Democrats voted against giving us the tools to protect the American people. I don't question their patriotism, I question whether they understand how dangerous this world is. If the tax cuts aren't made permanent, it raises the taxes on the American people. Who can protect this country, and who can keep taxes low?

Ah, so the Democrats aren't traitors after all. They're just stupid. Unlike the American people, who understand that revoking habeas corpus is the best tool for fighting terrorism, and that cutting taxes on the top-earning 1% of the population translates into economic bliss for the working class.

Telling Quote #1: "This war has multiple affronts."

Reason, logic, and humanity foremost among them.

Telling Quote #2: "I like campaigning. It's what guys like me do... From what I see out there, people are ready to vote to put us back into power. "

What Diebold hath wrought, let no man put asunder.

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