Your President Speaks, Uncomfortably

From Holden:

I happened to catch Chimpy’s entire Q & A in Idaho today, and on the subject of Iraq’s constitutional deadlock he looked noticably uncomfortable – visibly shaken, you might say. He even looked nervous during his opening remarks when he turned to the topic of Iraq, it was not just the questions that shook him.

You should read the entire transcript or better yet, peruse NTodd’s post, if you want to see his answers regarding Cindy Sheehan, as well as biking and fishing. But here are the questions and answers regarding the Iraqi consitutional process.

Q Mr. President, the Sunni negotiator yesterday for the constitution said that if they do pass the constitution tomorrow, that it would cause an insurgency amongst the Sunnis. What would America do if the Sunnis did rise up and have an insurgency?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think — you know, you’re speaking about one voice. There is more than one Sunni involved in the process. Reaching an accord on a constitution, after years of dictatorship, is not easy. And so you’re seeing people express their opinion. I don’t know if this is a negotiating position by the fellow or not. I’m not on the ground, I didn’t hear him.

But I will tell you I spoke with Secretary Rice twice this morning, who has been in touch with our ambassador on the ground. And she is hopeful that more and more Sunnis will accept the constitution. Again, I repeat to you that we’re watching an amazing event unfold, and that is the writing of a constitution which guarantees minority rights, women’s rights, freedom to worship, in a part of the world that had only — in a country that had only known dictatorship. And so you’re seeing people express their opinions and talking about a political process.

And the way forward in Iraq is for there to be a two-track strategy. One, on the one hand, there’s politics. It wasn’t all that long ago, but it seems like a long time ago, I guess, for some, that the Iraqi people expressed their interest in democracy. Eight million people voted. They said, we want to be free. They went to the polls, said, give us a chance to vote, and we will, and they did. In other words, they have made their intentions known that they want to have a free society. And now they’re writing a constitution.

The next step after the constitution will be the ratification of the constitution, and then the election of a permanent government. In other words, democracy is unfolding. And the reason why that’s important is, is that we’ve had a — we had a policy that just said, let the dictator stay there, don’t worry about it. And as a result of dictatorship, and as a result of tyranny, resentment, hopelessness began to develop in that part of the world, which became the — gave the terrorists capacity to recruit. We just cannot tolerate the status quo. We’re at war. And so this is a hopeful moment.

And you talk about Sunnis rising up. I mean, the Sunnis have got to make a choice — do they want to live in a society that’s free, or do they want to live in violence. And I suspect most mothers, no matter what their religion may be, will choose a free society, so that their children can grow up in a peaceful world.

Anyway, I’m optimistic about what’s taking place. I’m also optimistic about the fact that more and more Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy. And as I’ll remind the good folks of Idaho, our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And what that means is, as more and more Iraqis take the fight to the few who want to disrupt the dreams of the many, that the American troops will be able to pull back. We’re still going to be training Iraqis; we’ll still be working with Iraqis. But more and more Iraqis will be in the fight.

So you can see he had to dissolve into his hackneyed talking point about Our Troops Standing Down As The Iraqis Stand Up. If you saw the video you can tell that at this point he was desperate for a lifeline. Scanning the assembled reporters for Jeff Gannon and failing to find him, Bush called for help from Fox.

We’ve got somebody from Fox here, somebody told me?

Q Yes, Mr. President, thank you.

But the reporter from Fox was no help at all.

Q Does the administration’s goal — I’ll ask you about the Iraqi constitution. You said you’re confident that it will honor the rights of women.


Q If it’s rooted in Islam, as it seems it will be, is that still — is there still the possibility of honoring the rights of women?

THE PRESIDENT: I talked to Condi, and there is not — as I understand it, the way the constitution is written is that women have got rights, inherent rights recognized in the constitution, and that the constitution talks about not “the religion,” but “a religion.” Twenty-five percent of the assembly is going to be women, which is a — is embedded in the constitution.

A religion”, not “The religion”? Let’s check with Juan Cole, who has actually read the consitution in Arabic instead of relying on Condi’s whistful interpretation.

Article 2:

Para. 1: Islam is the official religion of state, and is a fundamental source for legislation. [Note: It is not THE source of legislation, though being A FUNDAMENTAL one may amount to much the same thing.]*

*Cole’s emphasis.