Another masterful performance by the Little Prince from an interview with Politico.com. For one thing, he looks forward to the day when he can sent emails again. The way things are now everything has to be deleted each time Congress sends over another subpoena.
And for another thing, you will be touched in the appropriate place to learn that Bush gave up golf as an expression of solidarity with the Gold Star mothers whose sons he has killed. Sorry the following post is so long, but there are lots of presidential shallows to be plumbed here.
Q: Mr. President, thank you very much for having us into the Roosevelt Room for the first online interview. In the spirit of the Internet, I wonder if we could ask a question from one of our users, Steve Bailey, of New York, who says: With oil at $126 a barrel, pushing up the price of everything — even food — what can your administration do to help people right now?
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate Steven’s concerns. With the price of gasoline going up, it’s like a tax. I wish I could give Steven a quick answer. In other words, it took us a while to get to where we are — very dependent on oil, and in a world in which demand is greater than oil. So my answer to Steven is that the best thing we can do is to increase supply, and to drill for oil and gas in environmentally friendly ways at home, and build more refineries. Steven probably doesn’t know this, but we haven’t built a new refinery since 1976, and if we’re truly interested in relieving the pressure on our consumers, then we ought to have a very active domestic policy now…
Q: Mr. President, the one thing we don’t see in here is a computer, and we know that you went cold turkey off email for security reasons. What are you looking forward to when you finally get your computer back?
THE PRESIDENT: Emailing to my buddies. I can remember as governor I stayed in touch with all kinds of people around the country, firing off emails at all times of the day to stay in touch with my pals. One of the things that I will have ended my public service time with is a group of friends, a lot of friends. And I want to stay in touch with them and there’s no better way to communicate with them than through email…
Q: Mr. President, acknowledging those constraints, you’re an oil man — some people say that climate change, global warming could have been your Nixon-to-China. Do you wish you’d done more?
THE PRESIDENT: I did what I think is necessary to actually work, Michael. I mean, I could have signed a — I could have supported a lousy treaty and everybody would have went, “Oh, man, what a wonderful sounding fellow he is.” But it just wouldn’t have worked. I don’t think you want your President trying to be the cool guy and not end up with policies that actually make a difference…
The biggest issue we face is — it’s bigger than Iraq — it’s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives. Iraq just happens to be a part of this global war. Iraq is the place where al Qaeda and other extremists have made their stand — and they will be defeated. They’ll be defeated through military action, but they’ll also be defeated as this young democracy takes hold. They can’t stand to live in a free society, that’s why they try to fight free societies…
I feel like — I felt like there were weapons of mass destruction. You know, “mislead” is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional — I don’t think so, I think there was a — not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.
Q: And so you feel that you didn’t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction — as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein. And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes. But intelligence communities all across the world felt the same thing. This was kind of a common assessment.
So “mislead” means, do I think somebody lied to me? No, I don’t. I think it was just, you know, they analyzed the situation and came up with the wrong conclusion.
Q: Mr. President, you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it really is. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal…
Q: Now, Mr. President, President Carter recently told Charlie Rose the next President could change America’s image in 10 minutes. Here’s what he said: “I think the next President could change the image of this country around the world in 10 minutes by making an inaugural speech that would start off and say, ‘As long as I’m President we will never torture another prisoner, as long as I’m President we will never attack or invade another country unless our own security is directly threatened.’”
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, what he ought to be saying is, is that America doesn’t torture. If the implication there is that we do now, then he’s wrong. And you bet we’re going to protect ourselves by the use of military force. What he really is implying is — or some imply — you can be popular; if you want to be popular in the Middle East just go blame Israel for every problem. That will make you popular. Or if you want to be popular in Europe, say you’re going to join the International Criminal Court.
Popularity is fleeting, Michael. Principles are forever.