Your President Speaks!

From Holden:

Dan Froomkin provided some excerpts of the following somewhat testy exchange between Dear Leader and a couple of European journalists who ask hard kweschuns, but I think it’s interesting to read the entire exchange.

Q And if I may, to President Bush, you’ve got Iran’s nuclear program, you’ve got North Korea, yet, most Europeans consider the United States the biggest threat to global stability. Do you have any regrets about that?

PRESIDENT BUSH: That’s absurd. The United States is — we’ll defend ourselves, but at the same time, we’re actively working with our partners to spread peace and democracy. So whoever says that is — it’s an absurd statement.

[later]

Q And to the President, Mr. President, you said this is “absurd,” but you might be aware that in Europe the image of America is still falling, and dramatically in some areas. Let me give you some numbers. In Austria, in this country only 14 percent of the people believe that the United States, what they are doing is good for peace; 64 percent think that it is bad. In the United Kingdom, your ally, there are more citizens who believe that the United States policy under your leadership is helping to destabilize the world than Iran. So my question to you is, why do you think that you’ve failed so badly to convince Europeans, to win their heads and hearts and minds? Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, yes, I thought it was absurd for people to think that we’re more dangerous than Iran. It’s a — we’re a transparent democracy. People know exactly what’s on our mind. We debate things in the open. We’ve got a legislative process that’s active. Look, people didn’t agree with my decision on Iraq, and I understand that. For Europe, September the 11th was a moment; for us, it was a change of thinking. I vowed to the American people I would do everything to defend our people, and will. I fully understood that the longer we got away from September the 11th, more people would forget the lessons of September the 11th. But I’m not going to forget them. And, therefore, I will be steadfast and diligent and strong in defending our country.

I don’t govern by polls, you know. I just do what I think is right. And I understand some of the decisions I made are controversial. But I made them in the best interest of our country, and I think in the best interest of the world. I believe when you look back at this moment, people will say, it was right to encourage democracy in the Middle East. I understand some people think that it can’t work. I believe in the universality of freedom; some don’t. I’m going to act on my beliefs so long as I’m the President of the United States. Some people say, it’s okay to condemn people for — to tyranny. I don’t believe it’s okay to condemn people to tyranny, particularly those of us who live in the free societies.

And so I understand, and I’ll try to do my best to explain to the Europeans that, on the one hand, we’re tough when it comes to the war on terror; on the other hand, we’re providing more money than every before in the world’s history for HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa. I’ll say, on the one hand, we’re going to be tough when it comes to terrorist regimes who harbor weapons. On the other hand, we’ll help feed the hungry. I declared Darfur to be a genocide because I care deeply about those who have been afflicted by these renegade bands of people who are raping and murdering.

And so I will do my best to explain our foreign policy. On the one hand, it’s tough when it needs to be; on the other hand, it’s compassionate. And we’ll let the polls figure out — people can say what they want to say. But leadership requires making hard choices based upon principle and standing — (President’s mike goes out) — and that’s how I’m going to continue to lead my country.

Thank you for your question.

Immediately following Chimpy’s response the Austrian Chancellor had this to say.

CHANCELLOR SCHSSEL: The problem is — and I will be very frank on that, and I said it the same way like we did it here, and we say it now — we are only — we can only have a victory in the fight against terror if we don’t undermine our common values. It can never be a victory, a credible victory over terrorists if we give up our values: democracy, rule of law, individual rights.

This is important to know. And our discussion with all the European parliament, the European governments, I personally — we are calling for the closure of Guantanamo. But our discussion today went far beyond the closing of Guantanamo, because we have — we have a legal problem, we have gray areas. And there should be no legal void, not in the fight against terrorists, but also not in — for individuals to be guaranteed in their individual rights, in their freedom.