I watched most of this Fox interview with President Bush
Between all the talk of putting greens and horseshoes, there were actually some interesting questions and answers.
I didn't much like Brit Hume leading off pretty early with all the talk about praying and faith, but that shouldn't surprise you.
When asked what his message would be to the U.N., the President said this:
My message is, is that although some of you didn't agree with the actions we took, now let's work together to rebuild Iraq, rebuild Afghanistan, fight AIDS and hunger, deal with slavery, like sex slavery, and deal with proliferation. Let's work together on big issues.
I will make it clear that I made the right decision and the others that joined us made the right decision. The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. The U.N. is going to be -- has a chance to be more effective as a result of 1441. That's the resolution that said if you don't disarm there will be serious consequences. At least somebody stood up and said this is a definition of serious consequences.
Yes. Exactly right. I'm still incredulous at those who argue that they didn't really know what "serious consequences" meant, that they weren't sure it meant force, which was ridiculous. The wording of 1441 was about it being a final chance to comply. Hussein didn't comply fully, so he faced serious consequences.
On the French:
HUME: Didn't there exist a similar relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and France that our government may have, to some extent, miscalculated by not recognizing?
BUSH: I don't know. I mean, look, I -- the French made a calculated decision to try to lead a lot of nations against what we were trying to do. And that created a lot of angst here in America. I heard from a lot of people who said, "Look, we've got relatives who died on French soil to help with their security. Why would they not only resist what many Americans thought was necessary with Saddam Hussein, but lead a coalition?"
And you hear all kinds of rumors as to why the French do what they do. And some of it is this notion about having a multi-polarity. That means to offset -- something to offset in Europe the ambitions of America.
My attitude about all that is our goals and ambitions are noble. We believe in peace. We strongly believe in freedom. Where we see suffering we will help. And rather than try to offset a nation, why not join nations together to achieve those kind of big objectives?
On fiscal responsibility:
HUME: Some of your critics have said that you're not exactly a tightwad, some of your conservative critics. That you've been -- that you -- not just because of the war -- and many other areas as well. You haven't vetoed a single bill, spending levels are going through the roof.
What do you say, Mr. President?
BUSH: Well, I would say that we've done a very good job of exacting some fiscal discipline here in Washington by getting budget agreements. And if you've noticed, the last two budget cycles, because of the agreements we put in place -- and Congress has worked with us to hold the line. We've got a capital and discretionary spending or agreement on discretionary spending not to exceed four percent. And I will hold Congress to that.
Now we have spent money, as you mentioned. My attitude is that when we put a youngster in harm's way, somebody who wears our nation's uniform in harm's way, he or she deserves the absolute best. And we are at war. And, yes, we've spent money on fighting and winning these wars.
I would agree that money needed to be spent on the Afghan war, the Iraq war, and Homeland Security. But not in conjunction with large tax cuts, and not while spending billions to bail out bloated airlines, and not while passing the largest farm subsidy bill in history. We've had to spend, and we're going to have to keep on spending...but Bush has also signed his name to way too much Congressional pork.
On the phrase "War on Terror":
HUME: Is there a perception in the country, do you think, that we are a nation at war, or that we are a nation engaged in a long sort of twilight struggle with a evil or a problem that the world has been grappling with for a long time that we're only real kind of now getting on to, and regarded as a literal war is perhaps not as accurate as regarding it figuratively more like the war on poverty or the war on drugs, that sort of thing
BUSH: That's a great question. I believe it's a combination of both. First of all, a lot of Americans understand that we must never forget the lessons of September 11, 2001. And that is, there is an active enemy that has got the capacity to strike and kill.
That's pretty literal. And, therefore, they expect their government to go find them before they hit us. And I expect our government to go find them before they hit us. And that's exactly what we're doing.
I thought this was an excellent answer.
And on the Democratic presidential field:
HUME: Turning to the Democratic field, how do you account for the rise in Howard Dean?
BUSH: Not paying attention to it.
HUME: Not at all?
BUSH: Well, occasionally it blips on my radar screen, but not nearly as much as you would think. I've got a job to do. I'm occupied.
HUME: But you've got nine people out there in permanent positions who are getting a lot of coverage, and they are beating the daylights out of you. You must know what they're...
BUSH: Their slogan is: Vote for me, I don't like George Bush? Well, you know, look, the American people are going to make that ultimate judgment as to whether or not I ought to be reelected.
True enough. If the elections were held today, I'd vote for Bush...no contest. But a lot can happen in a year. I'd like to see much more fiscal discipline that what I've seen out of the Bush administration. I'd like to see a greater commitment to Afghanistan. And I want to see who the Democrats nominate, and how that person fares against Bush in debates and on the campaign trail.