bush takes responsibility (gasp!)
I'm catching up on several developments from yesterday, when I was offline for most of the day.
Yesterday bore two surprises: President Bush not only held an actual press conference, but also accepted (at last!) responsibility for making a claim designed to give a misleading impression of Saddam's nuclear program.
Bush's aides have been struggling since July 7 to explain why he declared in his Jan. 28 address to Congress that Hussein "recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" despite earlier CIA warnings to avoid the claim. Bush since then had deflected questions about whether he took responsibility for the claim, which administration officials have alternately described as wrong and unsubstantiated.
The president amended his answer yesterday. "I take personal responsibility for everything I say, of course," Bush said. He then shifted to the broader defense of the war he had previously made. "I also take responsibility for making decisions on war and peace," he said. "I analyzed a thorough body of intelligence, good, solid, sound intelligence that led me to come to the conclusion that it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein from power."
The thing that struck me at once when I read this quote was that, while Bush tried hard to make it seem like "of course" he always takes repsonsibility, he has in fact had multiple opportunities to accept responsibility -- including at least one occasion when he was invited to do so point-blank, and dodged the question. He's also permitted at least two of his underlings to try to take the bullet for him. Interestingly, I think this move is designed to shield national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Her changing story about the uranium flap leave little room for any other possibility than that she's lying, incompetent, or both. Of course, Bush expressing his full confidence in her speaks volumes (after all, Rice's actions helped give Bush the was he so obviously coveted).
The other thing, of course, is the notion that Bush "analyzed" the intelligence in the speech. Memo to Bush: Jack Ryan, you ain't. Wanna be, maybe, but ain't.
Moreover, it's becoming increasingly obvious that there's no way intelligence about Saddam's weapons programs could have been "good, solid, sound intelligence;" if it was, we would have found something by now.
Bush's acceptance of responsibility is welcome, but if he thinks doing so will make the issue of his mendacity in selling the war -- about the uranium claim and so many other questionable statements -- go away, he's badly mistaken.