Friday, January 27, 2006

Trying to Maintain Control of the State, in a State of Confusion

WaPo's Millbank on the Prez's news conference: "In all, Bush uttered nearly 7,000 words in his 45-minute Q&A. But his message could be summed up with a brief phrase in his least-favorite language: L'Etat c'est moi (I am the state).

His approval of a program to eavesdrop without warrants: 'As I stand here right now, I can tell the American people the program is legal,' he certified.

His refusal to release photos of him with Abramoff: 'They're not relevant to the investigation.'

His view on congressional anti-torture legislation: 'Conducting war is a responsibility in the executive branch, not the legislative branch.'

His refusal to provide Congress with testimony about the federal response to Hurricane Katrina: 'That's just the way it works.'

Midway through this Bourbonic performance, the Los Angeles Times's James Gerstenzang offered an observation on Bush's surveillance policy: 'This seems to sound like something President Nixon once said, which was: 'When the president does it, then that means that it's not illegal.' ' Whispered 'oohs' could be heard in the room. Bush gave a look indicating he wished the dangling camera had fallen on Gerstenzang.

'Most presidents believe that during a time of war that we can use our authorities under the Constitution to make decisions necessary to protect us,' he answered, then offered his reading of legislation passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks: 'Go ahead and conduct the war. We're not going to tell you how to do it.'"


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