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Thursday, April 24, 2003
T-Ball Tom Brokaw
I guess we shouldn't be suprised, Tom Brokaw long ago stopped being a journalist. Now he's just your standard issue talking head with an uncontrollable compulsion for stalking WWII vets. But this interview with the Steely Eyed Rocket Man...egads. Bush hasn't had his leg humped like this since...well, when was the last time Howard Fineman dropped by?
Here are some of the important things T-Ball Tom asked
Prince Hal Young Churchill George:
Q Let me ask you about that day that the prisoners were captured. Everything played out on television. There's been probably no more televised event in the history of mankind. Suddenly you look on the screen and from Iraqi television there are five American prisoners of war, including a woman who was a cook, Shoshana Johnson.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I believe that was a Sunday. And it was a tough day. It was a tough day for America, it was a tough day for the Commander-in-Chief, who committed these young soldiers into battle in the first place. Which made their release even more joyous. But war is -- it's tough.
Q Did you make some calls?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn't. I've written a lot of letters, but I didn't call any parents then. I prayed for them, but I didn't call.
Q Did you talk to Laura about it? THE PRESIDENT: I did. I talked to Laura a lot during this period of time. She's been a steady source of strength and inspiration and love. You know, any time there's war and a lot of action, a lot of movement of troops and equipment, people are -- there's going to be death. And it's the hardest aspect of this job, frankly, is to know that those lives were lost because of orders I gave.
Q As you know, there's still a lot of skepticism around the world about American motives in Iraq.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
Q Why not fold in some of the U.N. inspectors to this effort, not turn it over to them, but make them a part of it? Would that help with the credibility, do you think?
THE PRESIDENT: I think there's going to be skepticism until people find out there was, in fact, a weapons of mass destruction program. One thing there can't be skepticism about is the fact that this guy was torturous and brutal on the Iraqi people. I mean, he brutalized them, he tortured them, he destroyed them, he cut out their tongues when they dissented. And now the people are beginning to see what freedom means within Iraq. Look at the Shia marches, or the Shia pilgrimages that are taking place.
The world will see that the United States is interested in peace, is interested in security and interested in freedom.
Q But it is important to find the weapons of mass destruction, or the evidence that he had a massive program underway, isn't it?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I think we will. I'm pretty confident we will.
Q Were you surprised by the degree of looting that occurred almost instantly?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I wasn't surprised at all.
Q You were not? Why?
THE PRESIDENT: I mean, these were people that hated the regime under which they lived.
Q But they went after hospitals and museums and --
THE PRESIDENT: I don't like that part. And that was the -- you know, the hospitals and museum were the absolute worst part. The good news is, is that the hospitals are now up and running, they've got enough medical supplies to take care of the people that need help. That museum was a terrible incident. I couldn't agree more with people who say we're sorry that happened. We are, by the way, helping find treasure, restore treasure and we'll provide all the expertise and help they need to get that museum up and running again.
Q Did your dad talk to you every day?
THE PRESIDENT: No. I check-in with him on occasion but, now, we don't talk every day.
Q How about Barbara, what does she have to say, your mother?
THE PRESIDENT: She's as feisty as ever. She's doing well. She doesn't follow everything in the news and the opinion like Dad does; he's an every word man.
Q Do you seek his counsel? It's a little tricky. Here's your father, somebody that you revered and love, and he's been there before. But at the same time, you're now the President. How do you work that out?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I really don't spend a lot of time hashing over policy with him. He knows that I am much better informed than he could possibly be. He gives me -- our relationship is more of, and our conversations are more along the line of a dad and a son, a dad conveying to his son how much he loves him. Which is important, even at the age of 56 years old it's important.
Q Did you call him the day the statue came down of Saddam Hussein?
THE PRESIDENT: I can't remember.
Q Because that was a memorable day.
THE PRESIDENT: It was. It was.
Q Did you watch all that?
THE PRESIDENT: I watched some of it. As you know, I've got a schedule to keep; I don't have time to sit around watching TV all day long. But somebody -- I think the Ashley or Blake said, the statue, they're about to get it down. They had a guy hammering on it for a while, and I watched the hammering --
Q It took a while to pull it down.
THE PRESIDENT: I watched them hammer. And then they said, they're hooking it up and they've got the crane out there. And I said, well, let me know. They said, well, it's about to come down. So I hustled and then watched it.
Q And what about the Iraqi information minister? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: He's my man, he was great. (Laughter.) Somebody accused us of hiring him and putting him there. He was a classic.
THE PRESIDENT: Al-Sahhaf.
Q He said: we are repulsing them at the airport, this war is just about over. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: He was great. (Laughter.)
Q Did you watch him actually? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I did watch some of his clips. You know, a lot of the stuff I get, people come in and report to me -- did you hear what so-and-so said, or, did you see that? So I get a lot of things secondhand.
But in the case of the statue or Sahhaf, somebody would say, he's getting ready to speak, and I'd pop out of a meeting or turn and watch the TV
It goes without saying that on any substantial question, Brokaw allows Bush to bluster his way through with scarcely a peep from Tom.
Got to keep that access, Tom.