President Bush did a good job of responding to the Iraqi people about the unacceptable behavior of American guards in Iraq.
Both supporters and detractors of President Bush have faulted the president for not doing a better job in his press conferences. Some suggest he is not as well-prepared as he should be; others question his knowledge of subjects. Some are quick to say he reads the prepared-statement part of these press conferences in a dull, uninspired manner, and many do not like what they perceive as Bush's arrogant or smug manner.
Generally speaking, Bush does not perform in an exciting, stimulating and inspiring way. His supporters note that what the man says usually makes a lot of sense, but his delivery is poor. They are quick to say a Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan could have delivered these same words in a much better, more moving manner.
Wednesday, the president agreed to be interviewed by two Arab news networks in response to revelations about the horrible treatment of Iraqi prisoners in American-run jails in Iraq.
Bush did an excellent job in presenting his, as well as the American, reaction to news of these terrible actions. He was quick and positive in his response to the questions posed by his interviewers, and he spoke with authority and sincerity. He made it clear the United States and its citizens would not tolerate such actions and that investigations would identify who was responsible so they could be punished. He compared the openness with which these investigations will be conducted with the possible response of a regime run by a ruthless dictator like Saddam.
Bush presented the American position in an honest and forceful manner and, in so doing, he certainly strengthened his own image in the eyes of fellow Americans. Bush came off strong in the interview, although there are sure to be reports saying his message didn't resonate with Iraqi listeners and viewers. And strong Democratic supporters of John Kerry can be expected to criticize Bush's effort.
The actions of a few U.S. prison guards and officials put America and President Bush in an almost indefensible position. Bush is to be congratulated, however, for going before Arab viewers to express his disgust, outrage and anger over the actions of Americans in the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.
He also used this relatively rare opportunity to address the Arab audience to tell them that the small number of Americans involved in the prison incidents do not represent the overall excellence of American military forces who are dedicated to bringing freedom, openness and opportunity to the citizens of Iraq.
Bush made the best of a very bad situation.