The Bush-Blair joint press conference is beginning now and is being carried live on ABC and CBS in addition to the cable news stations.
Update: The President said the violence in Iraq is not by accident or the result of faulty planning, but rather is a deliberate strategy of those in Iraq wishing to gain control by creating chaos.
Update II: I was happy to hear what the President said in the press conference about the ISG report.
President Bush moved quickly on Thursday to distance himself from the central recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group: pulling back all combat brigades over the next 15 months and direct talks with Iran and Syria.
One day after the independent panel rocked Washington with its bleak assessment of conditions in Iraq, Mr. Bush met at the White House with his closest ally in the war, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain. The president said afterward that the United States needs “a new approach” in Iraq and that he would ”seriously consider” the report, but was unlikely to accept all of its recommendations.
At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the co-chairmen of the panel, James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, called on Congress to exert pressure on Mr. Bush to accept the report in its entirety. Mr. Baker told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the White House should not treat the report “like a fruit salad,” while Mr. Hamilton complained that Congress had been ”extremely timid” in overseeing the war.
But Mr. Bush, in his first extended comments on the study, pushed back. With Mr. Blair by his side, the president said he needed to be “flexible and realistic” in considering troop movements, and made clear he would impose preconditions for talking to Iran and Syria that neither side is willing to accept. He was especially animated in describing what he said would be the consequences of a failure to stabilize Iraq, saying that future generations of Americans would be put at risk.
So James Baker says the recommendations have to be taken in their entirety? (Ya gotta eat the whole fruit salad.) Isn’t it funny how the media and Democrats get all critical of the President accusing him of being a “my way or the highway” type, but when someone critical of the President takes just such a stance, he receives only praise? Funny how that works.
Update III: John McCain is not my favorite presidential candidate, but I give him credit for calling the ISG report correctly. Good for him.