Wlady — I agree entirely with you. As a matter of fact, if I HAD “nitpicked” (which I said I wouldn’t do), the exact part of the press conference I would have criticized most strongly is the one you highlighted, namely the answer about Tommy Franks. When the question was asked, I started talking out loud to my TV set, saying, “PLEASE answer this right, please do it right, please…”– and then found myself getting angry when he again refused to acknowledge that no matter where the advice came from about troop levels, the advice was wrong, wrong, wrong, dead freaking WRONG. He would gain so much politically if he would ever, directly and unambiguously, admit that he personally has made an error in decisionmaking, and that he has LEARNED from it. The extreme lack of confidence so many people have (concerning Bush and his judgment and competence) stems in large part from the sense that he never learns, never adjusts (or unless not until WAY too late), never even admits to himself that he can possibly be or have been wrong, and therefore doesn’t ever IMPROVE on bad performance. It drives me nuts. One letter writer today said Bush’s mind seems “hermetically sealed,” and her impression is definitely understandable.
That said, I repeat that the man’s overall goals in Iraq are right and just, indeed profoundly moral; and that his insistence on victory there is wise and very much in the interests both of the United States and of world peace and justice. I also believe that other government officials have the responsibility to stand firm behind the president’s aims rather than slinking off like cowards at the first sign of political trouble… and that the American people need to grow up a little, learn a little history, and realize that war isn’t easy, that this war has been comparatively light in terms of casualties (although every casualty is a tragedy), and that there are things a lot worse than just wars are — that wars fought on behalf of freedom and human rights, and the honorable rule of law, can be well worth fighting, and that they can save millions and millions of lives at the cost of the lives (or limbs) of a few thousand brave heroes. Bush understands these things, and deserves credit for it.