Washington, DC (Rotters) – In a combined press conference yesterday with British counterpart Tony Blair, President Bush bristled at Blair’s and reporter’s insistence on adherence to the recently published Iraq Study Group (ISG) report. Blair expressed his willingness to not indulge in a “salad bar” acceptance of the recommendations, insisting that the British would be more than willing to clean their plates and come back for seconds.
Bush became momentarily angered by a BBC reporter, who offered that the president’s language indicated that he was still entrenched in denial, in regards to the growing catastrophe in Iraq. Bush gestured to the reporter, and insisted that he needed to be more “flexible and realistic” in his assessment. He gestured repeatedly as he described what would be the consequences to his administration if he admitted to its failure to stabilize Iraq, insisting that the future of the Republican Party would be put at risk.
Bush insisted that he would be waiting upon the results of other reports including one from the National Security Council which might offer more favorable assessments and approaches consistent with his administration’s views. He insisted that the sense of urgency in regards to the growing civil war in Iraq was highly partisan, and politically motivated. “We’ve got plenty of time,” stated Bush, “and this administration is determined to stay the way forward in Iraq.”
Bush again angrily gestured at a BBC reporter, when it was pointed out to him that another meaning for the word “stay” could be to “halt” or “stop”.
“Stay means what I decide it means,” concluded Bush as he angrily left the podium.
The White House offered no apologies for the president’s remarks, and insisted that all bets were off as to how the president would play his hand over the ISG recommendations. With political stakes rising, the White House appeared to be willing to “stay” at this point.