The Corner

“that the President would do well … to admit that it is impossible to understand them at all”

Mario makes some excellent points. And you see the president here and there start at exactly what Mario suggests – which makes it all the more frustrating when he’s not consistent and vigilant and crystal clear.

This is a little of his press conference today:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You mentioned the campaign earlier. Do you agree with those in your party, including the Vice President, who have said or implied that Democratic voters emboldened al Qaeda types by choosing Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman, and then as a message that how Americans vote will send messages to terrorists abroad? Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: You’re welcome. What all of us in this administration have been saying is that leaving Iraq before the mission is complete will send the wrong message to the enemy and will create a more dangerous world. That’s what we’re saying. It’s an honest debate and it’s an important debate for Americans to listen to and to be engaged in. In our judgment, the consequences for defeat in Iraq are unacceptable.

I fully understand that some didn’t think we ought to go in there in the first place. But defeat — if you think it’s bad now, imagine what Iraq would look like if the United States leaves before this government can defend itself and sustain itself. Chaos in Iraq would be very unsettling in the region. Leaving before the job would be done would send a message that America really is no longer engaged, nor cares about the form of governments in the Middle East. Leaving before the job was done would send a signal to our troops that the sacrifices they made were not worth it. Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster, and that’s what we’re saying.

I will never question the patriotism of somebody who disagrees with me. This has nothing to do with patriotism; it has everything to do with understanding the world in which we live. It’s like the other day I was critical of those who heralded the federal judge’s opinion about the terrorist surveillance program. I thought it was a terrible opinion, and that’s why we’re appealing it. And I have no — look, I understand how democracy works: quite a little bit of criticism in it, which is fine; that’s fine, it’s part of the process. But I have every right, as do my administration, to make it clear what the consequences would be of policy, and if we think somebody is wrong or doesn’t see the world the way it is, we’ll continue to point that out to people.

And, therefore, those who heralded the decision not to give law enforcement the tools necessary to protect the American people simply don’t see the world the way we do. They see, maybe these are kind of isolated incidents. These aren’t isolated incidents, they’re tied together. There is a global war going on. And somebody said, well, this is law enforcement. No, this isn’t law enforcement, in my judgment. Law enforcement means kind of a simple, singular response to the problem. This is a global war on terror. We’re facing extremists that believe something, and they want to achieve objectives. And therefore, the United States must use all our assets, and we must work with others to defeat this enemy. That’s the call. And we — in the short run, we’ve got to stop them from attacking us. That’s why I give the Tony Blair government great credit, and their intelligence officers, and our own government credit for working with the Brits to stop this attack.

But you know something — it’s an amazing town, isn’t it, where they say, on the one hand, you can’t have the tools necessary — we herald the fact that you won’t have the tools necessary to defend the people, and sure enough, an attack would occur, and they say, how come you don’t have the tools necessary to defend the people? That’s the way — that’s the way we think around this town.

And so we’ll — Jim, we’ll continue to speak out, in a respectful way, never challenging somebody’s love for America when you criticize their strategies or their point of view. And, you know, for those who say that, well, all they’re trying to say is, we’re not patriotic, simply don’t listen to our words very carefully, do they?

What matters is that in this campaign that we clarify the different point of view. And there are a lot of people in the Democrat Party who believe that the best course of action is to leave Iraq before the job is done, period. And they’re wrong. And the American people have got to understand the consequence of leaving Iraq before the job is done. We’re not going to leave Iraq before the job is done, and we’ll complete the mission in Iraq. I can’t tell you exactly when it’s going to be done, but I do know that it’s important for us to support the Iraqi people, who have shown incredible courage in their desire to live in a free society. And if we ever give up the desire to help people who live in freedom, we will have lost our soul as a nation, as far as I’m concerned.

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