The Artful Dodger and the $1000 Question

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Artful Dodger and the $1000 Question

A journalist finally(!) asked Bush the Downing Street memo question but it wasn't really answered, of course. Salon has a synopsis of what happened.
Boldly stepping where no other Washington reporter has dared to go, [Steve Holland] the Reuters correspondent actually asked the president Tuesday about the July 2002 Downing Street memo. At a joint George W. Bush-Tony Blair press briefing, Holland asked: "On Iraq, the so-called Downing Street memo from July 2002 says intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of removing Saddam through military action. Is this an accurate reflection of what happened? Could both of you respond?"

Blair answered first. Despite the memo's statement to the contrary -- and without offering any explanation for the contradiction -- Blair said, "No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all." He then turned to the memo's conclusion that Bush had already decided to use military force to depose Saddam Hussein. Again without explaining how the memo got it wrong -- assuming, for the sake of argument, that it did -- Blair insisted that he and Bush worked until the very end to find a way to avert war. "As it happened, we weren't able to do that because -- as I think was very clear -- there was no way that Saddam Hussein was ever going to change the way that he worked, or the way that he acted."

Bush took to the microphone next. He said nothing whatsoever about the core charge of the memo -- that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed" around Bush's decision to go to war. He did, however, deny that he had decided to use military force against Saddam Hussein as early as the memo said he did. "There's nothing farther from the truth," Bush said.

Along the way, Bush did what the Bush administration always does: He blamed the messenger. Bush complained that the memo had been "dropped" into the British press in the final days of Blair's re-election campaign: "Well, I -- you know, I read kind of the characterizations of the memo, particularly when they dropped it out in the middle of his race," Bush said. "I'm not sure who 'they dropped it out' is, but -- I'm not suggesting that you all dropped it out there."

Members of the White House press corps laughed...
That's our Bush-- forever the artful dodger-- always making the inappropriate joke to deflect any serious criticism or inquiry. Considering that his faux camaraderie with the White House press corp always seems to work what reason does he have to change his m.o. now?

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