Monday, December 15, 2003

What did Dad Know and When Did He Know it?

There was a curious moment at the end of the President's press conference this morning. The last question of the day was a two-parter: had Bush known in 2000 everything that would transpire during the first three years of office, would he still have sought the office (a softball like most questions today), and had the President spoken with his father (Bush I) since the capture of Hussein?

The President was quite voluble today, to the point of ebullience, providing a lot of detail in his answers, and in this case he indicated he'd been awakened at 5:15 a.m. by Condoleeza Rice via the phone, who told him they were prepared to say they were sure they'd captured Hussein. The President then said he immediately started calling people, and during that time he received a call from his father congratulating him on the capture.

I don't have a transcript at hand since one isn't available yet, so I'll have to go back and check this later today.

No doubt this is just the President convoluting his timelines, as ever, but it seemed curious to imply that Bush I knew about the capture of Saddam before W. -- and placed a call to the current President Bush.

I'm not a Bush conspiracy theorist -- I believe incompetence in management, leadership, and organization best explains how 9/11 happened on his watch, not some elaborate foreknowledge -- but it's moments like this that make you wonder who's calling the shots.

Update - 16 Dec 2004

Here's the transcript as the White House published it:
    "I talked to my Dad. He called me Sunday morning. I got the call from Donald Rumsfeld Saturday afternoon and made the decision there until I was more certain about the facts that I would talk to very few people. I talked to Condi and asked her to call Andy. And I talked to Vice President Cheney. Because what I didn't want to have happen is that there would be this rush of enthusiasm and hope and then all of a sudden it turned out not to be the person that we would hope it would be. So I didn't talk to my family. I told Laura, of course, and pretty much went to bed early Saturday night. And Condi woke me at 5:15 in the morning, which was okay this time. (Laughter.) Just don't do it again. (Laughter.)

    But she said that the Jerry Bremer had just called her and there was -- they were prepared to say this was Saddam Hussein, in which case we got dressed and hustled over to the Oval Office to start making calls.

    One of the calls I did receive was from my dad. And it was a very brief conversation. He just said, congratulations, it's a great day for the country. And I said, it's a greater day for the Iraqi people. And that's what I believe. I believe that yesterday was a day -- or Saturday, when we captured Saddam, it was a day where America is more secure as a result of his capture. But, more importantly, Saturday was a great day for the people who have suffered under this tyrant. "

Ignoring the fact the transcript cleans up what was actually said -- pauses, ums, mis-pronounciations, etc. -- this sure does seem like another example of the President merely not getting the details out in the right order. It's unclear when Bush I found out. On the other hand, look at it: it's clear that Bush I at least got the news before the American public, and he called W., not the other way around.

I wonder when Uncle Dick found out?

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