The presidential press conference held today touched on a number of issues other than Social Security. Here are some favorite exchanges.
I LOVES me some torture, but I hate follow-up questions!
Q Mr. President, can you explain why you’ve approved of and expanded the practice of what’s called rendition, of transferring individuals out of U.S. custody to countries where human rights groups and your own State Department say torture is common for people under custody?
THE PRESIDENT: The post-9/11 world, the United States must make sure we protect our people and our friends from attack. That was the charge we have been given. And one way to do so is to arrest people and send them back to their country of origin with the promise that they won’t be tortured. That’s the promise we receive. This country does not believe in torture. We do believe in protecting ourselves. We don’t believe in torture. And —
Q As Commander-in-Chief —
THE PRESIDENT: Sorry, what — make Roberts feel terrible. [Here Chimpy is referring to CBS’s John Roberts, who he did not allow to ask a follow-up earlier.]
Q That’s all right. [That’s Roberts.]
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, you shouldn’t make —
Q It doesn’t bother me at all. (Laughter.) [Roberts again.]
THE PRESIDENT: Elisabeth. [Chimpy tries to call on someone else to avoid the follow-up.]
Q As Commander-in-Chief, what is it that Uzbekistan can do in interrogating an individual that the United States can’t? [The follow-up]
THE PRESIDENT: We seek assurances that nobody will be tortured when we render a person back to their home country.
Hey, his projection of the cost of the War on Iraq was only off by a couple of hundred-billion dollars, he’d make a great banker!
Q Paul Wolfowitz, who was the — a chief architect of one of the most unpopular wars in our history —
THE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) That’s an interesting start. (Laughter.)
Q — is your choice to be the President of the World Bank. What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I think people — I appreciate the world leaders taking my phone calls as I explained to them why I think Paul will be a strong President of the World Bank. I’ve said he’s a man of good experiences. He helped manage a large organization. The World Bank is a large organization; the Pentagon is a large organization — he’s been involved in the management of that organization. He’s a skilled diplomat, worked at the State Department in high positions. He was Ambassador to Indonesia where he did a very good job representing our country. And Paul is committed to development. He’s a compassionate, decent man who will do a fine job in the World Bank. And that’s why I called leaders of countries and that’s why I put him up.
Hate takes a back seat to social destruction.
Q President Bush, a court ruling in California this week has revived debate over same-sex marriage. You support a constitutional amendment to ban such marriages. But it’s not something you talk about nearly as often as Social Security and many other issues. Will you put some muscle behind that effort this year? Or is it something you’d prefer not to deal with?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I haven’t changed my position. And as a matter of fact, the court rulings are verifying why I took the position I took, and that is I don’t believe judges ought to be deciding this issue. I believe this is an issue of particular importance to the American people and should be decided by the people. And I think the best way to do so is through the constitutional process. I haven’t changed my mind at all. As a matter of fact, court rulings such as this strengthen my position it seems like to me. People now understand why I laid out the position I did.
Q What can you do to promote action on that amendment?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I — the courts are going to promote a lot of the action by their very rulings. People will understand that — the logic behind the decision I made. And no matter what your position is on the issue, this is an issue that should be decided by the people, not by judges. And the more that judges start deciding the issue, I’m confident the more the people will want to be involved in the issue. This is a very important issue for the country and one that obviously needs to be conducted with a great deal of sensitivity and concern about other people’s feelings. But this is — it’s an issue I feel strongly about.
JimmyJeff gives me a woody.
Q Mr. President, earlier this year, you told us you wanted your administration to cease and desist on payments to journalists to promote your agenda. You cited the need for ethical concerns and the need for bright line between the press and the government. Your administration continue to make the use of video news releases, which is prepackaged news stories sent to television stations, fully aware that some — or many of these stations will air them without any disclaimer that they are produced by the government. The Comptroller General of the United States, this week, said that raises ethical questions. Does it raise ethical questions about the use of government money to produce stories about the government that wind up being aired with no disclosure that they were produced by the government?
THE PRESIDENT: There is a Justice Department opinion that says these — these pieces are within the law, so long as they’re based upon facts, not advocacy. And I expect our agencies to adhere to that ruling, to that Justice Department opinion. This has been a longstanding practice of the federal government to use these types of videos. The Agricultural Department, as I understand it, has been using these videos for a long period of time. The Defense Department, other departments have been doing so. It’s important that they be based on the guidelines set out by the Justice Department.
Now, I also — I think it would be helpful if local stations then disclosed to their viewers that that’s — that this was based upon a factual report, and they chose to use it. But evidently, in some cases, that’s not the case. So, anyway.
Q The administration could guarantee that’s happening by including that language in the pre-packaged report.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I don’t — oh, you mean a disclosure, “I’m George W. Bush, and I” —
Q Well, some way to make sure it couldn’t air without the disclosure that you believe is so vital.
THE PRESIDENT: You know, Ken, there’s a procedure that we’re going to follow, and the local stations ought to — if there’s a deep concern about that, ought to tell their viewers what they’re watching.
Why does George Bush hate America?
I like the idea of people running for office. There’s a positive effect when you run for office. Maybe some will run for office and say, vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America.