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Monday, February 09, 2004

Reactions to Bush interview

"There are worse things than simple mindedness"
Andrew Sullivan found Bush "as he normally is: affable, accessible, often inarticulate, but on the basic point of the war (if nothing else) right." Sullivan predicts "another small poll tumble" for Bush, but favorably compares him with Wesley Clark on CNN:
And, Wolf, the second point is, Saddam Hussein may well have been a bad guy. But since when does the United States go to war with people because we don't like them? There's any number of bad people around the world. Why did the president choose this particular man to go to war with? We've never done this before, that I know of, in American history. We picked the guy out, we made him a villain. We had him contained. We went to war with Iraq, despite the fact there was no imminent threat to the United States, no connection to 9/11.
Sullivan's retort:
Almost everything in that quote is wrong. There simply aren't many national leaders who are also mass murderers who have used chemical weapons to commit genocide, who have invaded two countries, broken the conditions of a truce with the United States, violated any number of U.N. resolutions and tried to assassinate the president of the United States. Maybe Clark could tell me who else is in that category. No one claimed that Saddam was an "imminent threat" for the umpteenth time. And, most glaring of all, the United States did not "make" Saddam a villain, no more than the U.S. "made" Milosevic a villain. That kind of crap belongs at an ANSWER rally, not in a presidential candidate. Thank God he's losing this race badly.
John Podhoretz in the New York Post says much the same thing:
PRESIDENT Bush didn't deliver a peak performance on "Meet the Press" yesterday in the midst of the dreariest days of his presidency. But still, he was very much himself - the same George W. Bush as he was last year and the year before that.

He showed his usual discipline and restraint. He spoke carefully to ensure that he didn't say more or less than he wished to say, and felt no compunction about repeating himself to hammer home his defense of the war against Saddam Hussein's regime and his conduct as president in the months before it...

Bush knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to state his case in his own words, in a forum with a tough interviewer, so that nobody could say he was ducking issues or going into hiding.
Walter Shapiro, writing in USA Today, found Bush to be "likable and presidential." He points out that while Democrats have been emphasizing domestic issues, Bush demonstrated that "this is still an election year defined by a controversial war in a far-off land."

Christopher Hitchens agrees:
I'm a single-issue person at present, and the single issue in case you are wondering is the tenacious and unapologetic defense of civilized societies against the intensifying menace of clerical barbarism. If in the smallest doubt about this, I would suggest a vote for the re-election of George Bush, precisely because he himself isn't prey to any doubt on the point. There are worse things than simple mindedness—pseudo-intellectuality, for example. Civil unions for homosexuals, or prescription-drug programs, are not even going to be in second or third place if we get this wrong.