I decided to spend the brain cells and listen to the Bush speech on Iraq this morning. I know, not a good use of resources, but I had little else to do.
One thing that struck me was when Bush said Iraq had gone through three phases. I don’t remember what he said those phases were, but I did find it interesting that the benchmarks always look better in hindsight than they do going forward. Bush is just making it up as he goes along and writing his own narrative to justify his actions.
As had already been widely reported, Bush stated that an interim report would indicate that eight benchmarks have been going swimmingly, eight are going not-so-swimmingly and two are “too close to call.” What an amazing over-simplification that is! Which eight are going well, and how well, and how related are they to the eight that aren’t going so well? All benchmarks are not, I am thinking, created the same. I suppose none of it really matters to the issue of our pulling out of Iraq, but at the same time, I’d like to think that there is some hope for Iraq to pull itself out of this mess.
But Helen Thomas had the question of the morning. In fact, it was barely a question. She asked, bluntly, “Don’t you understand that you have brought al-Qaeda to Iraq?”
And really, if he doesn’t get that, what’s the point of asking him anything else? This being the first press conference I’ve had the fortitude to listen to entirely, I began to notice what causes the fatigue among beltway reporters: asking George Bush a question is like talking to one of those mechanical fortune teller women you used to see in Niagara Falls. Any question you ask will be replied to with one of a set number of answers, regardless of whether or not it pertains to the question at all.