Donnez moi un break: Bush press conference

More

It is hard to know what is the most contemptible part of President Bush's press conference (ongoing as I write -- and as I listen to it, on a Cspan internet feed, in Shanghai). But it's going to be hard to top what he just uttered: the most blatant attempt so far to blame everything that went wrong in Iraq on the advice of the military.


Don't have the transcript in front of me now, but the point was: Hey, I asked Tommy Franks if he was ready to go -- including the postwar phase; and he said Sure, no problem. So (says the President), Don't blame me! I was listening to the experts!


Yes, as Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz so notably listened to Gen. Eric Shinseki. And yes, the president's laser-like assessment of Gen. Franks' shortcomings must have lain behind his decision to give him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Talk about "personal accountability" and "supporting the troops." (Franks does deserve a good share of the blame, and so do other military commanders -- but not for reasons the President apparently even grasps.)


Close second in the most-contemptible derby, half way through the press conference: Catechism-like repetition of the idea that we have to "fight them in Iraq so we don't fight them here." I wonder if anyone has ever dared challenge the logic of this to the President's face. (Ie, what are you talking about??? Why should people bother to plant bombs in Baghdad if they thought they had a chance of planting them in DC?) My oh my.

Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

From This Author

Just In