The full text of President Bush’s Meet the Press interview is here. It doesn’t read badly. Here is a good quote:
I don’t think America can stand by and hope for the best from a madman. And I believe it is essential, I believe it is essential that, when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before they become imminent. It’s too late if they become imminent. It’s too late in this new kind of war.
And this exchange is entertaining:
RUSSERT: This is what John Kerry had to say last year. He said that his colleagues are appalled at the, quote, president’s lack of knowledge. They’ve managed him the same way they’ve managed Ronald Reagan. They send him out to the press for one event a day. They put him in a brown jacket and jeans and get him to move some hay or move a truck, and all of a sudden he’s the Marlboro Man. I know this guy. He was two years behind me at Yale. I knew him, and he’s still the same guy.
Did you know him at Yale?
But Captain Ed gives Bush a C-. Ed thinks Bush settled down as the interview went on, but was ineffective in the first half, when he was talking about Iraq:
The president appeared rattled during the entire span of Russert’s questioning on the war and intelligence, stammering, leaning forward, repeating phrases time and again, and providing disjointed and borderline non-responsive responses.
The pundits at The Corner aren’t very complimentary either. But I guess we all knew that the President wasn’t going to get re-elected on the basis of his verbal facility. John Hood put it well on The Corner:
No voter currently undecided about 2004, but even remotely familiar with the current occupant of the White House, is expecting to see evidence of his deft facility with the English language and his uncanny ability to fence and perry with talk-show hosts. That’s not the guy they’ll vote for. The guy they’ll vote for is a decent, no-nonsense, well-meaning, forthright leader who makes tough and reasonable decisions to keep them safe and protect their freedom. On Iraq and intelligence, I thought Bush performed well. He was repetitive on some basic points, including the idea that “at a minimum” Hussein has been confirmed as having the ability to manufacture and then pass along dangerous weapons to terrorists. Thus, Bush continued, we “had no choice” but to act.
But my favorite comment came from a reader who emailed The Corner:
The notion you relayed from someone that if Bush loses the election then this will be the day he lost it betrays a profound lack of proportion: not only was this just a Sunday morning political show, it was a Sunday morning political show nine months before the election. Most people who watch such shows already know who they’ll vote for in the next election (and have known since the day after the last election), and most people who will vote in the next election were not watching. Bush’s voters were in church.