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May 08, 2006

Now You Know

Why?

"President Bush's approval rating has slumped to 31% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the lowest of his presidency and a warning sign for Republicans in the November elections."

Because.

"President Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake."

Posted by john at May 8, 2006 10:02 PM

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John Scalzi | May 8, 2006 10:06 PM

SuperMegaUltra Irony:

Bush claims the perch he caught was seven and a half pounds, but the largest freshwater perch ever caught was 4 pounds, 3 ounces.

JH | May 8, 2006 11:32 PM

...

Rachel | May 8, 2006 11:43 PM

I read somewhere that it was a mistranslation, caused by the movement from English to German back to English. Bush apparently meant "bass" not "perch."

John | May 8, 2006 11:58 PM

The official whitehouse translation says bass...for what that's worth.

JonathanMoeller | May 9, 2006 12:12 AM

But the President was finally honest! That fish IS the best moment of his administration so far.

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 12:20 AM

Well, if it's bass, then that's a nice catch.

darren | May 9, 2006 01:33 AM

Wow! That is really low approval for an accomplished president. But really high for bush.

Nathan Montgomery | May 9, 2006 02:49 AM

There's also this...

Bush calls war against terror "World War III"

Although I don't know if it's gotten wide enough coverage here to affect his approval ratings yet.

Nathan Montgomery | May 9, 2006 02:51 AM

Er, sorry about the spacing, it looked right in the preview.

rhiannon_s | May 9, 2006 07:23 AM

I'm half expecting him to name the fish "bin Laden" just so he can say he caught Osama. Sad thing is, if he did it, half the American population would believe it as well.

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 07:27 AM

Nathan Montgomery

"sorry about the spacing, it looked right in the preview."

Yeah, that's why I put "Preview will not show paragraph breaks" in the information above the comment field.

I fixed it for you.

Eric Berlin | May 9, 2006 08:47 AM

You know, I'm not a big fan of Bush, but it seems like there's a pretty good chance in this case that he is pulling a reporter's leg.

John H | May 9, 2006 08:53 AM

Yes, but isn't that the point? This man should not be running a superpower nation.

What I find funny is how in the White House transcript he talks about the oval office being a shrine and how the office of president is bigger than the person filling it. Then he goes on to say his best moment in office is catching a damn fish!

Bush gives other village idiots a bad name!

Smurf | May 9, 2006 09:05 AM

I lived on a lake for awhile, and catching a perch isn't that hard to do. A bass is a tougher nut to crack, but nothing to really brag about in Germany.

It'd be cool if Bush was fishing like a flamingo, standing astride a river crossing and jabbing his mouth into the water as a fish swam by.

Is anyone else worried that too much time has passed since the last Bush-led disaster (I'm sort of ignoring Iraq, but that can be done here)? I fear that the next one will be a 9/11-style doozy.

Shawn Struck | May 9, 2006 09:56 AM

Y'know, that quote isn't what made me want to klonk my head on my desk over and over, hoping that either the cadence of the dull thunk-thunk-thunk or the eventual head trauma would bring sweet, sweet relief.

This quote was the "omgwtfbbq" moment for me:
Yes, that. I think, like all of us, it took a while for the -- it was more than a moment. It was the event and the aftermath. On a situation like that, it takes a period to understand exactly what was going on. When somebody says, America is under attack, and -- you've got to fully understand what that meant. And the information coming was haphazard at best for a while. We weren't sure if the State Department got hit. I'd heard the White House had got attacked. Of course, I was worried that -- my family was here.

So he sat there for five minutes and did nothing.

Afterwards, he hopped on Air Force One. While he thought his family might have been attacked, he spent pretty much the entire day flying above the country, out of communication from the White House.

This means that while he was in the air, for several hours, he decided not to run the country he was elected to run when it was under attack by the people who, as far as he knew, may have killed his family.

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 10:07 AM

While he thought his family might have been attacked, he spent pretty much the entire day flying above the country, out of communication from the White House.

This means that while he was in the air, for several hours, he decided not to run the country he was elected to run when it was under attack by the people who, as far as he knew, may have killed his family.

Um, you are aware of modern day communication technology, right?

I'm just guessing that you are, however, unaware that the President, from Air Force One, can be in communication with all departments in the Executive Branch and with Congress. He talk on the phone, hold audio and video conferences, and even, should the need arise, launch a nuclear attack.

All while flying around in the air.

In fact, this very thing is the primary design requirement for Air Force One and it's backups.

Well, after flying, that is.

FYI

I know this is amazing to some, but it is not Science Fiction.

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 10:30 AM

Yeah, of the things one might fault Bush for regarding 9/11, flying around in Air Force One is not the one I'd spend a lot of time on.

Shawn Struck | May 9, 2006 10:33 AM

CoolBlue,

From a Reuters article:
"While President Bush was on board Air Force One the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he was unable to hold video conferences, monitor news coverage properly or receive key data from people on the ground, Business Week reported in its latest edition. The magazine said that as a result of communications inadequacies on the presidential plane, Bush ordered the equipment on the fleet of four presidential planes to be upgraded. "The president was not happy," Adm. James Ellis Jr., commander of the U.S. military's Strategic Command, was quoted as saying in the Nov. 4 issue. "He couldn't even watch CNN," Ellis added of the day Bush flew around the country for his safety after the attacks in New York and Washington. It was only when Bush landed at Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska that he was able to use Strat-Com's sophisticated equipment to assess the situation and give orders, the magazine said. Air Force Col. Robert Hudson was quoted as saying less than $50 million was made available after Sept. 11, 2001, to upgrade the presidential planes and two of them have already been completed."

Phillip J. Birmingham | May 9, 2006 10:42 AM

Yeah, of the things one might fault Bush for regarding 9/11, flying around in Air Force One is not the one I'd spend a lot of time on.

Exactly. I remember yelling at the TV on 9/11:

TV: "Where is the President?"

Me: "WHO CARES? IT'S NOT LIKE THERE'S ANYTHING HE CAN DO RIGHT NOW!"

In retrospect, I should have said: "Look, at least he's not around making things worse."

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 11:09 AM

Shawn,

Interesting. I hadn't heard of that. However, your characterization of the events is a overly-critical.

For instance, Bush spent 4 hours on Air Force One, not "all day". And most of that was because of both the communcations problem and the fact that the pilot was worried AF1 would be targeted.

Also, there was not a complete communications black out, but it appears they were not optimum. And Bush was pissed.

Mr. Bush says the first hours were frustrating. He watched the horrifying pictures, but the TV signal was breaking up. His calls to Cheney were cutting out. And he says he pounded his desk shouting, “This is inexcusable. Get me the vice president.”

“I was trying to clear the fog of war, and there is a fog of war," says the president. "Information was just flying from all directions.”

Card brought in the reports. There was word Camp David had been hit. A jet was thought to be targeting Mr. Bush’s ranch.

“I remember hearing that the State Department might have been hit, or that the White House had a fire in it," says Card. "So we were hearing lots of different information."

They also feared that Air Force One itself was a target. Cheney told the president there was a credible threat against the plane. Using the code name for Air Force One, Mr. Bush told an aide, “Angel is next.” The threat was passed to presidential pilot Col. Mark Tillman.

Clearly information was reaching the President. But

On Air Force One, Col. Tillman had a problem. He needed to hide the most visible plane in the world - a 747 longer than the White House itself. He didn’t want to use his radio, because the hijackers could be listening to air traffic control. So he called air traffic control on the telephone.

“We actually didn't tell them our destination or what directions we were heading,” says Tillman. “We, we basically just talked to them and said, 'OK, fine, we have no clearance at this time, we are just going to fly across the United States.'”

Controllers passed Air Force One from one sector to another, warning each other to keep the route secret.

“OK, where’s he going,” one tower radioed to another.

“Just watch him,” a second tower responded. “Don’t question him where’s he's going. Just work him and watch him, there’s no flight plan in and we’re not going to put anything in. Ok, sir?”

Air Force One ordered a fighter escort, and air traffic control radioed back: “Air Force One, got two F-16s at about your 10 o’clock position.”

“The staff, and the president and us, were filed out along the outside hallway of his presidential cabin there and looking out the windows,” says Bartlett. “And the president gives them a signal of salute, and the pilot kind of tips his wing, and fades off and backs into formation.”The men in the F-16s were Shane Brotherton and Randy Roberts, from the Texas Air National Guard. Their mission was so secret their commander wouldn’t tell them where they were going.

“He just said, 'You’ll know when you see it,' and that was my first clue, I didn’t have any idea what we were going up until that point,” says Brotherton. But he knew when he saw it.

“We, we were trying to keep an 80-mile bubble, bubble around Air Force One, and we'd investigate anything that was within 80 miles,” adds Roberts.

Bush, however, says he wasn't worried about the safety of the people on this aircraft, or for his own safety: “I looked out the airplane and saw two F-16s on each wing. It was going to have to be a pretty good pilot to get us.”

We now know that the threat to Air Force One was part of the "Fog of War," a false alarm. But it had a powerful effect at the time. Some wondered, with the president out of sight, was he still running the government? He hadn’t appeared after the attack on Washington.

Bush arrived at Offut AFB at 3pm where he was able to get informed and issue orders. He was back at the White House nine hours after the attack.

Shawn Struck | May 9, 2006 11:27 AM

CoolBlue,

An intersting point. You're right, 4-7 hours is much different from "all day", and upon further reflection, could be considered a mischaracterization.

See, I was also working off my emory of this article which mentions the RNC selling this photo which was being billed as being taken hours after the attack, when he called the VP-- so it looks like it only tooks him about 7 hours to get in touch, not all day. Thanks for clearing that up.

Tripp | May 9, 2006 11:32 AM

TV: "Where is the President?"


Me: "WHO CARES? IT'S NOT LIKE THERE'S ANYTHING HE CAN DO RIGHT NOW!"

For better or worse the President represents the country and the American people and he should have been projecting a calming image, reassuring the citizens during a time of crisis.

That is what he could have done. And of course it would have been a purely symbolic gesture but people need symbolism, especially during a time of crisis.

Instead he was AWOL and then used the crisis to fan the flames of fear for partisan reasons over and over and over again.

He even convinced Scalzi, a normally rather sensible person, that we needed to go to war when we clearly did not.

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 11:39 AM

Tripp:

"He even convinced Scalzi, a normally rather sensible person, that we needed to go to war when we clearly did not."

Well, no. I didn't oppose the war for my own reasons, but I was never under the impression that Bush's reasons were legitimate. As I wrote in October 2002 on the matter:

"I'm not opposed to fighting a war with Iraq now. Be that as it may, even those people who fully support a war against Iraq are rather painfully aware that the stated reasons that the Dubya administration wants to gear up for war are window dressing for a revenge fantasy. It is possible to fight a just war for less than entirely just reasons. We're about to do it."

Just to clarify.

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 11:40 AM

For better or worse the President represents the country and the American people and he should have been projecting a calming image, reassuring the citizens during a time of crisis. That is what he could have done. And of course it would have been a purely symbolic gesture but people need symbolism, especially during a time of crisis.

I left out this part because the response was predictable, and I like the drama. So I'll continue

We now know that the threat to Air Force One was part of the "Fog of War," a false alarm. But it had a powerful effect at the time. Some wondered, with the president out of sight, was he still running the government? He hadn’t appeared after the attack on Washington.

But Mr. Bush was clearly worried about it. At one point he was overheard saying, “The American people want to know where their dang president is.” The staff considered an address to the nation by phone but instead Mr. Bush ordered Air Force One to land somewhere within 30 minutes so he could appear on TV. At 11:45 a.m., they landed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

“The resolve of our great nation is being tested," Mr. Bush said to the nation from Barksdale. "But make no mistake, we will show the world that we will pass this test. God bless.”

To reiterate, that was at 11:45 am.

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 11:46 AM

even those people who fully support a war against Iraq are rather painfully aware that the stated reasons that the Dubya administration wants to gear up for war are window dressing for a revenge fantasy.

The whole mind-reading this simply fascinates me.

I'm not very good at it myself but I recognize that other might be.

But I am leery about accepting it....

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 11:58 AM

Coolblue:

"The whole mind-reading this simply fascinates me."

It's not mind-reading. It's simply recognizing from the start that the arguments provided were utter crap and then using deductive logic from there.

I suspect if one were mind reading Bush there'd be a lot of thoughts along the line of "You know, I really like Corn Nuts."

Or, alternately, "Man, that was a big fish."

Tripp | May 9, 2006 12:06 PM

CoolBlue,

Regarding AWOL Bush - there is an old old political adage that says "If you are explaining you are losing."

The explanation that Bush knew at the time what to do (address the nation) but was not able to do it speaks volumes.

Maybe that is unfair, maybe not, but Americans needed a leader, not someone who could explain later why he was not able to get the job done.

Add that with Katrina and spending loads of time at his personal Bass hole and here we are.

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 12:13 PM

It's not mind-reading. It's simply recognizing from the start that the arguments provided were utter crap and then using deductive logic from there.

I beg to differ. It is mind reading because there are a number of different scenerios which would explin the facts. You have picked one for which there is no direct evidence other than claiming to know something about someone you have never met through seemingly mystical means.

Contrary to this, we have direct evidence of what Bush was thinking from, at least, Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack", and Tommy Frank's book "An American Soldier" among other sources.

Ask yourself this; a hundred years from now what will historians use as reference material to deconstruct what happened in the lead up to the war? My guess is it will not include psychics. At least not in academic peer-reviewed histories.

Right now, today, we have plenty of material that gives a rationale that does not include the irrational.

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 12:19 PM

CoolBlue:

"You have picked one for which there is no direct evidence other than claiming to know something about someone you have never met through seemingly mystical means."

Well, there is Bush speaking more than once about his anger at Saddam for "Trying to kill his dad."

In other words, you don't need to read minds when people speak their thoughts out loud. There's nothing mystical about that.

And oddly enough, thanks to this supporting quote, I have at least as much evidence supporting my theory for the war than Bush appears to have had for his.

Besides, Bush is always talking about knowing people's hearts and souls as rationales for doing things. If it's good enough for him, etc.

Tripp | May 9, 2006 12:46 PM

Besides, Bush is always talking about knowing people's hearts and souls as rationales for doing things. If it's good enough for him, etc.

Shudder.

Talk about the bigotry of low expectations.

Sheesh.

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 01:13 PM

In other words, you don't need to read minds when people speak their thoughts out loud.

So you take this to be his reason to go to war? Because he was angry at someone who tried to kill his father? First off, who would not be angry with someone who tried to kill a family member? Expressing this means nothing by itself.

If you find this convincing, fine, but don't forget that there is a tendency for people to find evidence that reinforces their beliefs rather than trying to find ways to disprove their theories.

The former is religion.

That letter is science.

I have at least as much evidence supporting my theory for the war than Bush appears to have had for his.

Perhaps.

But you are relying on a single statement, spoken in a different context while the political calculus that brought us to war was much more complex and involved many different and independent sources.

And just so you know, there are, in my estimation, many good reasons to have opposed the war at the outset. And there were many good arguments counter to an invasion. But none of them involve the "Bush did it to avenge his father" theory.

Congress granted Bush authority to wage that war. Were they also seeking revenge?

Clinton in 1998 signed a resolution by Congress calling for regime change in Iraq. Did he do that because of Bush's father as well?

Having said all of that, I'm am quite sure that Bush is very happy to see the man who ordered his father's assassination in jail.

Just as I would be.

Jon Marcus | May 9, 2006 02:02 PM

Bush is speaking about going to war against a Saddam, and in that speech he points out that Saddam tried to kill his father. This happens on more than one occasion. (http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/09/27/bush.war.talk/ or use Google).

From this John concluded that we were going to war because of a revenge fantasy.

Your response is this couldn't be possible, that'd be too unreasonable. But you don't provide any evidence to back up that claim.

I'd agree that someone in this thread is arguing from faith instead of reason...

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 02:09 PM

CoolBlue:

"So you take this to be his reason to go to war?"

What part of what I wrote about did you not understand? Quite clearly, I think he took our country to war for this reason. To be clear, I don't think he would have gone to war with Iraq if 9/11 had not given him pretense to do so, because Bush is not that stupid. But it did, and left it to the NeoCons to rationalize it away. He may have had other reasons to go to war, none of them particularly good, either. But I think this particular reason is the one that put a poker up his ass.

"But you are relying on a single statement, spoken in a different context while the political calculus that brought us to war was much more complex and involved many different and independent sources."

And? A single statement can be more true than an entire pack of lies, obfuscations and bad data. In this case, the single statement is no less true than the "political calculus" which brought us to war, no "perhaps" about it.

Your questions re: Congress and Clinton are entirely irrelevant as regard to Bush's motivations. There are a lot of fine reasons to have gotten rid of Saddam; I had some of my own, which is (again) why I didn't oppose the invasion. However, I don't pretend that my reasons for not opposing the invasion have much to do with Bush's reasons for going in.

"I'm am quite sure that Bush is very happy to see the man who ordered his father's assassination in jail."

Well, as am I. As should we all.

Tripp | May 9, 2006 02:12 PM

My son asked me a few days ago why I thought Bush took us to war in Iraq.

I told him some people thought toppling Saddam would allow democracry to flourish in the Middle East. Some people wanted the Iraqi oil contracts for US companies. Saudi Arabia wanted our troops out of their country and we needed a new base. Saddam called for the death of Bush Sr. A President's popularity always increases during war and an election was coming up. Bush Jr. has also said he feels he is on a mission from God.

Only Bush Jr. knows for sure why the 'decider' decided the way he did. He had plenty of rationales available.

None of these reasons were originally shared with the American people.

Avdi | May 9, 2006 02:23 PM

Tripp:

Speaking as an American, in the four hours after the 9/11 attacks I did not need a leader. I went home and spent time with my family, and comforted my children.

Bush's leadership of the nation's military and emergency services may or may not have been up to snuff during that period of time; I don't know and I'm sure their are credible argumetns either way. But I certainly didn't need some official to stand up and tell me how to feel about events, or to offer empty assurances before there was possibly time to do an accurate assesment. I did what I could for my family, and I assumed that the government was busy making itself useful for once.

I can't speak for other Americans, but I don't need some stuffed shirt on CNN to give me warm fuzzies in times of crisis, or to tell me who to hate because of it, or to tell me that as an American I'm now committed to some new global mission. The less "leadership" of that kind, the better.

Presidents should lead the government, not the country.

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 02:31 PM

Your response is this couldn't be possible, that'd be too unreasonable. But you don't provide any evidence to back up that claim.

You misunderstand my position: I am not arguing that this is not possible. It is completely within the realm of possibility.

I am argueing that there are other reasons that fit the facts better than this for which there is little compelling evidence.

But you don't provide any evidence to back up that claim.

The problem, of course, is that neither you, nor John, has refuted the evidence that lies before your own eyes. The arguments given by Bush were and remain valid.

He and everyone else extending back before the current Administration saw Iraq as a threat both to the US and the region. The fact that no one has found WMDs there does not mean that no one thought they were there: most experts did.

Simply beacuse France and Germany did support us going to war in Iraq doesn't mean they didn't think he had WMD: they too thought he had them.

On the eve of the invasion, Bush said:

"The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda."

All of which was true. He also said

"Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed."

Which was also true: no nation could claim it because Saddam did nothing to help dispell the notion and he actively worked against implementation of UN Resolution 1441.

He also said

"If Saddam Hussein attempts to cling to power, he will remain a deadly foe until the end. In desperation, he and terrorists groups might try to conduct terrorist operations against the American people and our friends. These attacks are not inevitable. They are, however, possible. And this very fact underscores the reason we cannot live under the threat of blackmail. The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed."

Whether or not you believe this, it's pretty clear he believed this and that is why he acted.

You want me to disprove the theory that he did it for revenge for which there is precious little evidence?

Disprove to me that the reasons stated in public were not the actual reasons.

Another scientific principle is that the simplest explanation is usually correct unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary.

You know, Occam's razor and all that.

Tripp | May 9, 2006 02:40 PM

Avdi,

Well, gosh, I don't think *anybody* wants someone to tell us how to feel or to offer empty assurances or to tell us who to hate or define who and what we are.

Is that what you think a leader does?

If so then it's no wonder that Libertarianism is gaining popularity.

Other Stephen | May 9, 2006 03:08 PM

Tripp:

I don't propose to speak for Avdi, but I for one think that that is precisely what a leader does. Not a real leader, but what leadership has become in our society. I don't see how any one individual can personally lead a nation of 300 million unless they do it through platitudes and broad generalities.

I also apply this concept to business. Most managers, executive managers, et al. tout leadership as a necessary trait for their positions, but usually they are really giving pep-talks and "monitoring" their employees.

My point, if I have one, is that you only need a leader when being led in a specific effort. Sitting around being a citizen does not require a leader. Doing a well-established job that you've been doing for years does not require a leader.

Leadership still sounds like an admirable and lofty goal and is pursued by those who believe the are fulfilling their potentials, but I just don't think that leaders are needed in the vast majority of cases.

I also hope you are not joking about Libertarianism gaining popularity. I think the only way out of our current problems (as a nation, or a species) is to give up the drive to lead and manage the world and humanity into a supposed superior state and simply mind one's own business and to paraphrase the physicians' oath, "First, do no harm".

P.S.
John Scalzi: Have you read the letter from the President of Iran yet? Do you have any reaction to the letter or the White House response. It sounds to me like their reaction is: "It's a bunch of philosophical gobbledegook and doesn't fit the paradigm we have in mind to argue under, so it just doesn't apply and we'll ignore it."

That's just my first impression and I admit that I haven't read the letter so I am curious about the reaction of someone better informed than I.

Avdi | May 9, 2006 03:08 PM

Tripp:

Leadership, to me, is something someone does when one wants a group of people to all go in a particular direction. I expect leadership from my boss, from the leaders of organizations I may be member of, from activists, and perhaps from religious figures. I expect military commanders to exercise leadership of their troops.

What I expect the government to do - and by extension the President - is to govern. It is a subtle but important difference. The government is there to keep order, to regulate commerce, to maintain security. We pay the president to lead the government in providing those services, so that the rest of us can get on with our lives, being lead - or not - by whatever leaders we decide to put our faith in.

I have to wonder what kind of positive leadership you expect from the president in times of crisis. To admonish us to cooperate with our local authorites? Kind of goes without saying, and it's not like we have much choice. To pray, and have hope and solidarity? We have preachers and rabbis and imams for that. To stay in our homes? No, that would exceed his authority. To tell us everything is under control? That's not leadership, that's just part and parcel with governing. To voice the feelings on the hearts of all Americans at this time of trouble? Not possible; we are too diverse.

So what? How is a President supposed to "lead" America when it is under attack? Or at any other time, for that matter?

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 03:21 PM

Other Stephen:

"John Scalzi: Have you read the letter from the President of Iran yet? Do you have any reaction to the letter or the White House response."

I haven't read the letter, but I'm willing to bet the content is null, since I expect the intent behind the letter was not dialogue but propoganda. If that is the case, and if the White House response is to largely ignore it, I would support that response.

However, bear in mind I speak out of ignorance at this point, having not read the letter.

Nate | May 9, 2006 03:44 PM

Bush makes a joke, and you people go apeshit.

Brilliant.

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 03:52 PM

Bush makes a joke, and it turns out to be the truth.

Tragic.

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 03:56 PM

Your questions re: Congress and Clinton are entirely irrelevant as regard to Bush's motivations.

Agreed.

There are a lot of fine reasons to have gotten rid of Saddam; I had some of my own, which is (again) why I didn't oppose the invasion. However, I don't pretend that my reasons for not opposing the invasion have much to do with Bush's reasons for going in.

Sure. And you have your theoy about revenge. My point is, we'll likely never know how much this figured into it.

And more precisely, you don't know and I don't know.

I would urge anyone who is interested in this, though, to read "Plan of Attack" and "An American Soldier" and see if it changes your mind any.

I don't think anyone could accuse Woodward of being a Bush partisan.

But ultimately you are right. Bush will be judged in the long run for how Iraq and the situation in the greater Middle East and North Africa turns out. His secret reasons, if we ever get to know them, will become something people learn about on The History Channel if they decide to watch it instead of American Idol.

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 03:58 PM

Bush makes a joke, and you people go apeshit.

You call this going apeshit?

Ain't been around much, haveya now?

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 03:59 PM

"His secret reasons, if we ever get to know them, will become something people learn about on The History Channel if they decide to watch it instead of American Idol."

If he ever does his memoirs (which I assume he will), we may hear about them then. Bush is, I think, remarkably resistant to caring about how others view him (which is actually not a criticism), and once he's out of office, I can see him opening up on some of this thinking about the invasion without a Clinton-esque concern about how history will judge him.

Let me also suggest I think that after a couple of years he'll probably become a fairly popular ex-president.

"You call this going apeshit?"

Heh. Indeed. This has been a model thread; actually -- people with lots of strong opinions, generally sticking to wrestling with data points rather than calling each other names. My commenters rock.

Nate | May 9, 2006 04:15 PM

Fair enough. I should have said "comically overreact," which doesn't mean there's a lack of civility of course.

John H | May 9, 2006 04:29 PM

Bush makes a joke, and you people go apeshit.

No, Bush IS a joke, and the whole world knows it...

John H | May 9, 2006 04:31 PM

Let me also suggest I think that after a couple of years he'll probably become a fairly popular ex-president.

What, the way Herbert Hoover is so fondly remembered?

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 04:38 PM

What, you didn't have a Herbert Hoover plush toy as a child?

Was I the only one?

Tripp | May 9, 2006 04:59 PM

Other Stephen,

I also hope you are not joking about Libertarianism gaining popularity. I think the only way out of our current problems (as a nation, or a species) is to give up the drive to lead and manage the world and humanity into a supposed superior state and simply mind one's own business and to paraphrase the physicians' oath, "First, do no harm".

Libertarianism is a dead end pipe dream. While your utopian group is minding it's own business, doing no harm, my group will take your land, your treasure, and your women.

Here is how to build a society:

1. Everyone pays in proportion to what they get.
2. The strong help the weak.

Libertarians are anarchists. Little 'L' libertarians are selfish idealists. Both are no better than communists.

Don | May 9, 2006 05:19 PM

"Let me also suggest I think that after a couple of years he'll probably become a fairly popular ex-president."

A pretty small achievement when you consider that all Nixon had to do to become almost a saint was croak.

CoolBlue | May 9, 2006 05:29 PM

Don

A pretty small achievement when you consider that all Nixon had to do to become almost a saint was croak.

Nixon became a saint?

Yikes! Another memo I missed.

Scalzi

This has been a model thread; actually -- people with lots of strong opinions, generally sticking to wrestling with data points rather than calling each other names. My commenters rock.

Your commenters do rock. You are indeed a lucky man.

Smurf | May 9, 2006 05:38 PM

I'm just a French girl... but my ideal President would have been in NYC on 9-11 by noon, tops.

Jennifer | May 9, 2006 05:56 PM

I don't think anyone could accuse Woodward of being a Bush partisan.

Woodward isn't a Bush partisan, but he's deeply invested in keeping his sources happy with him so he can write the next book and the ones after that. Also, one of the reasons so many people talk to him is his implicit bargain, "Talk to me and your view will get into the book, don't talk to me and it won't appear." He had excellent access even in this secretive White House, and he writes about what his sources tell him.

darren | May 9, 2006 08:02 PM

Based on the some of the comments, particularly those about deposing Saddam, his being in jail, and Monkeyman's supposed happiness about that, I would like to take a moment to quote some people:

"It would be possible for Saddam Hussein to remain in power in Iraq if he eliminated his weapons of mass destruction."

"the principal offence here is weapons of mass destruction ... The major issue before us is disarmament."
-Sec. of State Collin Powell (Oct. 2002)

"The question is, will Saddam Hussein disarm. The world has asked him to disarm from weapons of mass destruction. The first indication isn't very positive that he will voluntarily disarm. After all, he put out a declaration that the world realized was false. And the inspectors are there to verify whether or not he is disarming. You hear these reports about Iraqi scientists being interviewed, but there's a "minder" in the room.

You know, Saddam Hussein -- hopefully he realizes we're serious, and hopefully he disarms peacefully. He's a danger to the American people, he's a danger to our friends and allies. For 11 long years, the world has dealt with him. And now he's got to understand, his day of reckoning is coming. And therefore, he must disarm voluntarily, I hope he does."
-George W. Bush (Jan. 03)

Please, someone tell me this means something other than Saddam could stay in power if only he would disarm. I truly want to see that leap in logic.

John Scalzi | May 9, 2006 08:50 PM

How could he disarm when he didn't have WMDs? Because, as you'll recall, we didn't find any.

Or am I reading your comment incorrectly?

Phillip J. Birmingham | May 9, 2006 10:44 PM

Judge whether good enough hit SH same time. Not only UBL.

They started working on selling this war before the dust from the WTC had even settled.

So, yeah, you can trot out all sorts of reasons why we would or would not have believed he had chemical and biological weapons, but please forgive me if I see it as a posteriori rationalization to justify an action that had already been decided upon long before.

darren | May 10, 2006 01:42 AM

"Or am I reading your comment incorrectly?"

You read it incorrectly, but no worries. Your first statement there is my point. If he would have disarmed peacefully, he could have remained in power according to the administration. So it makes little sense that we deposed him even after not finding the weapons that we not only said were there, but said we knew exactly where they were. By the statements of our own government officials, we should have pulled Saddam out or his spider hole, dusted him off, said "Sorry for the misunderstanding and dead civilians," and came back home. Unless of course, said government officials were lying. But they wouldn't do that would they?

John Scalzi | May 10, 2006 01:47 AM

Darren:

"You read it incorrectly."

D'oh. Note to self: No more Sudafed smoothies.

Phillip J. Birmingham | May 10, 2006 09:46 AM

No more Sudafed smoothies.

Aw, c'mon, John -- it's your birthday!

Tripp | May 10, 2006 10:22 AM

darren,

No no no. I'm sure the warbloggers would say that the clever Bush trapped Saddam in a logic trap.

Yeah, we asked him to prove a negative, and said if he could not do so then it must be a positive! Everyone knows proving a negative existenial proposition is impossible.

But did Saddam reply "You, sir, are being disengenous! You have practiced ad hominem and argumentum ad ignorantiam. You have stated that if I cannot prove WMD do not exist then they must exist. Any first year logic student will see through your ploys!"

Maybe he did say this. I cannot prove that he did not say this. Maybe Fox news simply neglected to report it.

In the meantime Joe "Warblogger" Sixpack had a woodie for some blood so none of this logic stuff really mattered.

Brian Greenberg | May 11, 2006 09:11 AM

Sorry I missed the "model thread" - darren and I were kicking up dust on 9/11 in another thread from earlier...

CoolBlue - awesmoe posts - useful & informative. Thank you kindly.

Tripp - Proving that WMD's don't exist is (as you say) impossible. But proving they got rid of WMD's that we gave them years ago is not impossible. Also, he was a pain in the ass when it came to letting us come in & look around.

I think it's clear that Saddam could have been more forthcoming. He chose not to, either to challenge the US in some kind of stupid ego-fest, or, as I've seen it reported, because his own generals were telling him he still had the WMDs, and were afraid to tell him they were gone for fear of their own lives.

Tripp | May 11, 2006 12:12 PM

Brian,

But proving they got rid of WMD's that we gave them years ago is not impossible.

Really? How would one do that? Swear on a stack of bibles? Produced signed documents from "reliable" sources?

Or maybe let someone look here - or here - or here.

Considering some of the supposed WMDs could fit in a suitcase I don't know how one could prove they don't exist. Iraq is the size of California, for goodness sake, and some people still claim he whisked them off to Syria.

Brian Greenberg | May 11, 2006 01:17 PM

Tripp:
But proving they got rid of WMD's that we gave them years ago is not impossible.

Really? How would one do that?

Well, telling us who he sold them to would be a good start. Or providing documentation of their destruction? I'm no expert, but I gotta believe you don't just toss a chemical/biological weapon in the trash & let the garbagemen pick it up - this stuff has got to be buried somewhere, and someone has to keep track of where, no?

As for the "reliable" sources - sure, you're right. We could have declared any proof he provided as fake, and invaded anyway. But he didn't even try. He let UN inspectors in, but then carted stuff out of the buildings just before letting them in (if they weren't WMD's, then what was that all about? Baiting us? Could be...)

As I said, I think it's clear he could have been more forthcoming if he really wanted to avoid war. That didn't seem to be his plan at all...

Tripp | May 11, 2006 05:23 PM

Brian,

I doubt you even know what WMDs we accused him of having. Poison gas and anthrax are fairly easily destroyed and leave no residue. He had no nuclear material. So what WMDs are you asking him to produce to prove that he destroyed them?

You talk about Saddam's plan. My guess is that his plan was to look as tough as possible to remain in control of his country. Once he realized we were going to invade no matter what he did he probably planned to go into hiding and told his army to put up no resistance, to go into hiding as civilians, and then to fight a guerrila war until the US got tired and left. Doesn't that seem like common sense to you?

Except for his getting caught his plan seems to be working pretty well.

A lot better than Bush's plan to invade under false pretenses, be welcomed as liberators with songs and flowers, install Chalabi, secure Iraqii oil contracts for US oil companies, and move our troops from Arabia to Iraq.

Brian Greenberg | May 15, 2006 12:28 PM

Tripp,

I freely admit to not knowing all the details here. Colin Powell's presentation to the UN went into specifics about what we sold to Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war, which hasn't been accounted for to this day.

As to your common sense scenario, I think it would have been relatively simple for Hussein to paint Bush into a corner and avoid the invasion. All that was needed was a very public show of cooperation - Bush had made such a big deal about his need to disarm & cooperate that any such signs would have brought immense international pressure to negotiate. Heck - even false documentation could have delayed the war.

The basic problem, I think, is that you're assigning rational thought processes to an irrational man.

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