Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Mr. Bush was grave and impressive while reading his opening remarks, which focused on the horrors of terrorism and the great good that could come from establishing a free and democratic Iraq. No one in the country could disagree with either thought. But his responses to questions were distressingly rambling and unfocused. He promised that Iraq would move from the violence and disarray of today to full democracy by the end of 2005, but the description of how to get there was mainly a list of dates when good things are supposed to happen.
There was still no clear description of exactly who will accept the sovereignty of Iraq from the coalition on June 30. "We'll find out that soon," the president said, adding that U.N. officials are "figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over" to. In Mr. Bush's mind, whatever happens next now appears to be the responsibility of the United Nations. That must have come as a surprise to the U.N. negotiators and their bosses, who have not agreed to accept that responsibility and do not believe that they have been given the authority to make those decisions.
Mr. Bush did concede that the Iraqi security forces had not performed well during the violence and that more American troops would probably be needed. But his rhetoric, including the repetition of the phrase "stay the course," did not seem to indicate any fresh or clear thinking about Iraq, despite the many disturbing events of recent weeks.
Was there anything good about it? No questions about domestic policy. If there were Bush's head would've exploded.
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