In advance of his trip to England next week, President Bush gave an interview yesterday to several members of the British press. This morning the Daily Telegraph carries nearly three full pages on the interview. President Bush appears to have performed brilliantly, and the Telegraph’s editor, who conducted the interview and got a tour of the Oval Office, was obviously impressed.
These are the words highlighted by the Telegraph:
“I can understand people not liking war, if that’s what they’re there to protest. I don’t like war. War is the last choice a president should make, not the first . . .
“And, yet, we are at war. That’s what September the 11th taught us. It’s a different kind of war. And I intend to, so long as I’m the President, wage that war vigorously to protect the American people.”
Naturally, Bush praised Tony Blair effusively. Asked what Blair’s “payoff” was for supporting the Iraq effort, Bush replied:
“Freedom and peace. Tony Blair is making decisions for the right reasons, he is the least political person I’ve dealt with . . .
“Never once has he said to me, ever, ‘Gosh, I’m feeling terrible pressure’. I have never heard him complain about the polls, or wring his hands. The relationship is a very good relationship because I admire him, and I admire somebody who stands tough.”
The Telegraph’s editor, Martin Newland, has a sidebar on his personal impressions of Bush: “The good ol’ boy charm disguises a resolve that is always just below the surface, that dominates any discussion and I suspect renders attempts at two-way conversation sometimes futile. It was there in the way he cut me off when I was attempting to make a point, it drips from every word used to describe the threat to his homeland and the evils of terrorism.
“It was present in his effortless domination of an interview with three senior British journalists. The President does not know self-doubt.
“I was reminded particularly of an observation made by David Frum, the former White House speechwriter….It is mistake to sign up to the popular notion that the President is both amiable and stupid. He is neither.”
The run-up to the President’s visit has focused almost exclusively on the anticipated protests, the extraordinary security precautions requested by the White House, and the troubled situation in Iraq. But I wouldn’t be surprised if President Bush wows the British public much as he did the trio of jounalists who met him yesterday.
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