GOOD COP, BAD COP….Responding to a reporter’s question today in Beijing, the president seemed anxious to tone down the rhetoric.
“People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq. I heard somebody say, well, maybe so-and-so is not patriotic because they disagree with my position. I totally reject that thought. This is not an issue of who’s patriot [sic] and who’s not patriotic. It’s an issue of an honest, open debate about the way forward in Iraq.”
At this risk of sounding ungracious, isn’t it a little late in the game for Bush to express tolerance for dissent?
After all, only a week ago it was the president who said criticisms from Democrats “send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will.” It was also his White House that issued a formal statement in response to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), comparing him to Michael Moore — for the Bush gang, a serious insult — and suggesting that Murtha’s position purports to “surrender to the terrorists.” And it was the Vice President who offered similar rhetoric, lashing out at “a few opportunists” he believes are undermining the troops.
Indeed, at a press conference in Korea last week, a reporter told Bush that Dick Cheney called it “reprehensible” for critics to question how the administration took the country to war, while Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said it’s patriotic to ask those kinds of questions. Asked who he thinks is right, Bush said, “The Vice President.”
But now the president wants everyone to know that we’re having an “honest, open debate” and he “totally rejects” calling others’ patriotism into question. Looks like he was for demagogic attacks before he was against them.