Everybody is talking about the president’s appearance on “Meet the Press” Sunday, and most agree that it was not one of the great moments of his presidency. And it doesn’t matter who you ask, whether it’s George Will or Peggy Noonan or some other Bush supporter, you’ll be told President Bush’s performance was less than stellar.
No matter what other criticisms have been voiced, to my mind his unqualified defense of CIA Director George Tenet, was inexcusable. While his display of loyalty to a member of his administration is characteristic of the man, his judgment in the matter leaves a lot to be desired. Moreover, that same sense of loyalty was not displayed by Mr. Tenet.
People in government who have been appointed by the president, or even holdovers from the previous Clinton administration who have been allowed to keep their jobs, serve at the pleasure of the president. Part of their job is to protect the president from verbal assaults and attacks, especially those that are utterly unjustified by the facts.
George Bush is now under attack for something for which he should not be criticized – the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and the failure of intelligence about Iraq’s WMDs. People forget that George W. Bush was sworn in on January 20, of 2001. He hadn’t had time to even open his eyes before 9/11 happened and yet he is being blamed for it and the Democrats and their media allies are implying that he knew something that he did not know about the attack when all the evidence proves the charges are simply hogwash. And as far as the WMD matter is concerned, President Clinton and every foreign intelligence service agreed that Saddam Hussein possessed them.
The biggest mistake he made last Sunday on “Meet The Press” was voicing confidence in George Tenet. If George Tenet were a real man and saw his President under attack and taking all the flak for the failure of the CIA and the all problems with the intelligence, he would willingly take the blame and offer his resignation – and the president would do well to accept it. He’d take the monkey off the President’s back and put it on his own shoulders where it belongs.
As long as George Tenet simply hangs around and plays the cover-my-behind card instead of protecting the president, George Bush continues to get buried by a controversy which should be focused on the CIA director.
It’s important to remember that Tenet is a Clinton holdover, which should be a warning to any president that it is very unwise to allow people from previous administrations to stay on in key positions such as head of the CIA, especially if they were from the opposite party. You’re just asking for trouble, especially when the previous administration was Bill Clinton’s scandal ridden term of office.
The President needs to have somebody tell him he needs to get rid of George Tenet. Karl Rove needs to sit down and have lunch with George Tenet and tell him “George, it’s time for you to turn in your resignation and we want it by dinnertime. And the President will accept it.”
This is important because what’s happening now is not good for the President and not good for America. What we have is a president who is running the war like Ronald Reagan and running his re-election campaign as if he were his father.
Remember, when the Republicans had a package on former President Bush’s desk that would have cut spending without raising taxes to get the budget to that $500 billion mark, the Democrats had a tax increase to get there. And the president who had pledged “read my lips, no new taxes,” chose the Democrat’s tax increase over his own party’s spending cuts. And the rest is history.
The President has to start showing the kind of strength he displayed after 9/11 and the place to start is to have someone go to George Tenet and tell him to accept his responsibility to protect his president and resign.
©2004 Mike Reagan. You must contact us if you would like to print this column in your publication or post online. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561