Pres. Bush held a press conference today, in which he clarified a number of nagging questions.
In case you were wondering why he vetoed a bill that had broad bipartisan support, it's because he wanted to be relevant [emphasis in original]:
Today in his press conference, President Bush attempted to justify his recent veto of an SCHIP expansion by explaining that he needs to issue vetoes in order to prove to people that he’s still the Decider:That’s why the president has a veto. Sometimes the legislative branch wants to go on without the president, pass pieces of legislation, and the president can then use the veto to make sure he’s a part of the process. And that’s what I fully intend to do. I’m going to make sure. And that’s why when I tell you I’m going to sprint to the finish, and finish this job strong, that’s one way to ensure that I am relevant. That’s one way to ensure that I’m in the process. And I intend to use the veto.
Yes, that's right. Bush has hardly used his veto at all during his presidency, but now, facing irrelevance, he has decided to use it to strike down a bill, a bipartisan bill, to provide health insurance for children.
Once more, we are offered a glimpse into the ugly soul of George W. Bush.
He's the great divider, but he's got the bully pulpit, and he's seeking common ground:
At the end of the press conference, Bush celebrated what he called his "bully pulpit," telling reporters "I was trying to get your attention focused on the fact that major pieces of legislation aren't moving, and those that are, are at a snail's pace. And I hope I did that. I hope I was able to accomplish that."
Bush said that "now it's time to put politics aside and seek common ground." But New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg asked: "This morning, you gave us a pretty scathing report card on Democrats. . . . I'm wondering, how would you assess yourself in dealing with Democrats this past year? How effective have you been in dealing with them on various issues? And do you think you've done a good job in finding common ground?"
In his response, Bush demonstrated that his idea of common ground involves Democrats caving in and giving him whatever he asks for.
"We're finding common ground on Iraq," he told Stolberg. "We're -- I recognize there are people in Congress who said we shouldn't have been there in the first place. But it sounds to me as if the debate has shifted, that David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker's testimony made a difference to a lot of members. . . .
"We found common ground on FISA," Bush said, referring to the gutting of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that Congress temporarily approved in August but is now reconsidering.
Steve Benen comments on a joke that wasn't funny:
Post Script: By the way, he was kidding, but I found this unpleasant.
Q: Mr. President, following up on Vladimir Putin for a moment. He said recently that next year when he has to step down, according to the constitution, as President, he may become Prime Minister, in effect keeping power and dashing any hopes for a genuine democratic transition there. Senator McCain –
BUSH: I’ve been planning that myself. (Laughter.)
Not funny. Really, not at all.
Holden Caulfield gives us the Bush dyslexicon, which includes his inability to answer a simple question:
Q Thank you, sir. A simple question.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. It may require a simple answer.
Q What's your definition of the word "torture"?
THE PRESIDENT: Of what?
Q The word "torture." What's your definition?
THE PRESIDENT: That's defined in U.S. law, and we don't torture.
Q Can you give me your version of it, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Whatever the law says.
That question was asked by Newsweek's Richard Wolffe. Froomkin also noted it, and adds:
Bush has consistently refused to say what he means when he says "we don't torture," rendering the phrase essentially meaningless. Saying "whatever the law says" doesn't clear things up at all. It just means that if we do it, his lawyers have found a way not to call it torture.