Archive for Thursday, April 22, 2004

Bush triumph

April 22, 2004


To the editor:

Your editorial, "Communication gap" (April 19), unfairly blames President Bush for his failure to communicate the "seriousness of the terrorist threat" at his most recent press conference. It even describes him as too often "dull and uninspiring" while speculating how much better former presidents Reagan and Clinton might have connected to the public.

Your negative assessment fails to take two crucial matters into account. One is that President Bush has far less practice with press conferences than these and all other former presidents, this being only the third he has called during his tenure. Another, it shows a total lack of empathy for the monumental burdens he alone carries. The president knows he is the president and commander in chief and is accountable for all the decisions he makes and for the consequences triggered by his decisions. But where does your editorial even hint at the towering task he faces of defending bold decisions that proved to be wrong (e.g., war on Iraq, tax cuts), that were based on false assumptions, and that have yielded horrifying consequences (e.g., mounting soldier deaths, rising deficits, no Iraqi governing body in sight)?

Had you viewed this horror from the president's perspective, I think you would have concluded that his press conference performance was masterful. Not only did he model an impregnable defense, he succeeded in denying his opponents (press correspondents and the Democratic party) the headline fodder they were avidly seeking: "Bush admits to mistakes." Seen in this fair and balanced way, the president was triumphant, and his mission accomplished.

Goodwin Garfield,


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