We learn more from the questions not answered
George Bush is on a blitz of answering non-screened questions. He took questions from a general audience in Cleveland yesterday and from the press corps at the White House today. The former audience, not stuck within the usual narratives, did a better job of springing novel questions. But the answers, constrained by the person giving them, are more revealing in what they didn't say. While the whole transcript (and Dan Froomkin's highlights thereof) are worth a look, if we had to pick one question, it would be this:
Q My son signed up after 9/11, and I didn't raise a terrorist. And let's face it, there's a continuum and a lack of clarity about who's violent and who's a terrorist. And we really do want to use the word "enemy" in a meaningful way. I think your speech has been very brave and very important and very clarifying. And in the interest of clarifying the purpose of our country to fight preventive war, which we know does involve violence, it's very important for us to understand what you're saying about your model community in Iraq. And my question is that you are killing the bad guys, and that's very important that's the entire story of the battle. And we want to know who the bad guys are. Do you feel that Iraq is like a honeycomb, and that we can draw the al Qaeda there so we can stand and fight them there? I'm really asking for clarification.
THE PRESIDENT: Sure. I think in Iraq there are three types of folks that are trying to stop democracy ...
The question, while not as clear as it could be, points to the depth of Bush's problems. This woman has clearly gone along with the GWOT from the start, and has a son on the front lines -- but, recognizes that wars involve killing ("there's a continuum and a lack of clarity about who's violent and who's a terrorist") and she just wants to be sure that the troops are killing the people they're supposed to be killing. And she got no answer. Bush's answer, beginning with the clause above, is just word-for-word the sections from his last round of speeches in December when his strategy for victory in Iraq was released.
Since the Marine mother had the moral sense to construct the question in the first place, she surely realizes that it was never answered. With that segment of his support base waning, George Bush is in big trouble.