Just As I Thought

Beware of candidate promises

I put this piece of advice out there for both Democrats and Republicans. And Greens, and whomever else. But I give the example of our current “leader.”
I’ve written a few times here about the dismay of having a President who refuses to take responsibility. There are a lot of Bush apologists who keep pointing out that it was only 16 words, why is it such a big deal? It’s a big deal because his “savvy” team have bungled this issue so poorly and kept it in the forefront. And because of this statement by Bush during his presidential campaign:

“My job will be to usher in the responsibility era, a culture that will stand in stark contrast to the last few decades, which has clearly said to America: ‘If it feels good, do it, and if you’ve got a problem blame somebody else,’ ” Bush often said on the campaign trail in 2000.

But once in office, “like most presidents, Bush blames everybody but himself for bad news,” Congressional Quarterly’s Craig Crawford wrote last week.

I can’t help but wonder if the whole issue would have gone away if he had just said, ala Harry Truman, “the buck stops here. I made a mistake.”

Again, an example of the Clintonian evasion that the Bush administration first excoriated, then embraced:

The inevitable question came again in Bush’s July 17 press conference with Britain’s Tony Blair. This time, Bush took responsibility four times — though not for the words.

“I take responsibility for putting our troops into action,” he began. “I take responsibility for making the decision, the tough decision, to put together a coalition to remove Saddam Hussein. . . . I take responsibility for dealing with that threat. . . . And, yeah, I take responsibility for making the decisions I made.”

But what about the 16 words? Five days later, in a briefing on the controversy, White House communications director Dan Bartlett was asked if Bush accepted responsibility for citing the discredited intelligence. “He is responsible for the decision of going to war,” Bartlett said. CBS’s John Roberts was not satisfied. “So does he not ultimately bear responsibility for these 16 words going in the speech?”

“Well, John, as I said, the president bears responsibility for the decisions he makes,” Bartlett replied. That still didn’t do it for Roberts, who said, “But on this particular issue, I mean, does he not say, ‘I’m in charge of the White House, it’s ultimately my responsibility?’ ”

Bartlett didn’t budge. “Well, and in this case, he is accepting the explanation of his staff.”

Roberts persevered. “Okay, so he’s not going to take responsibility for the White House that he oversees?”

“John, he takes full responsibility for the decisions that he has made.”

At a dead end, reporters tried deductive reasoning. If the president takes responsibility for the case for going to war, and the faulty allegation was part of this case, then the president does, in fact, take responsibility for the infamous 16 words? “He is responsible for the decisions he makes,” Bartlett repeated.

At the end of this Post article is a small item on overextending troops – at the same time there was a flap over the ABC News item which lead the White House to “out” the reporter as gay and Canadian, there was also an article in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes quoting military personnel saying the same thing.

And this wonderful quote:

“I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq.” — Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, July 21.

Browse the Archive

Browse by Category