In a subtitle, soft-pedaling the Bush administration's recent free-fall in ratings, the LA Times-Washington Post Service said: "The President, in a rare TV interview as his ratings fall off a little, stands behind the war and the CIA director."
Meet The Press (which might be better called "find this program") aired at 6 am on Sunday morning; the article in the OREGONIAN appeared in Sunday's paper . . . which most people would not see until well after 6 am.
Obviously Bush felt that a gesture was necessary, but not necessarily an easily accessible or genuine gesture. Cosseted by the President-friendly Tim Russert of NBC, Bush used the program as a platform to launch his election-year counterattack against Democrats. After having assigned responsibility for intelligence failures to the CIA and damning George Tenet to eventual dismissal as a scapegoat, Bush followed with the inevitable faint praise for the director. Tenet -- like an abused plant made to produce hybrid fruit and then left without water -- probably saw these measly drips as far too little and too late.
"I strongly believe the CIA is ably led to George Tenet," Bush said in the NBC interview. Asked whether Tenet's job was in jeopardy, Bush said: "No, not at all, not at all." [nudge, wink]
Russert allowed Bush to brush aside questions about why he wants to stall or extend any intelligence investigation until after elections. Bush's explanation? "Look, we are in a political season." Considering the historically large volume and time related to political fundraising during his administration, Bush's entire Presidency has been a self-centered "political season."
Asked if he would testify before the commission investigating US intelligence gathering, Bush replied, "Testify? I will be glad to visit with them. I will be glad to share with them knowledge. I will be glad to make recommendations , if they ask for some." PLEASE!!
Most gauling of all, his crocodile tears about our young soldiers dying for a war with no justifiable basis:
"Every person that is willing to sacrifice for this country deserves our praise. It's essential that I explain this properly to the parents of those who lost their lives. Saddam Hussein was dangerous, and I'M [caps are mine] not just going to leave him in power and trust a madman. He's a dangerous man. He had the ABILITY [caps are mine] to make weapons, AT THE VERY MINIMUM." [caps mine]
A far cry from an imminent threat or actually having an active program of weapons of mass destruction aimed at our shores. By the way, where is Saddam at this moment and what is happening to him?