Hilarity With Helen

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Mar 21, 2006 7:54 AM

UPDATE: Ian has video.

Oh, man. If you get a chance to watch clips of the Bush press conference this morning, please do. He was on fire.

Helen Thomas proffered a typically balanced, fair question: "All of the reasons you gave for going to war have been proven wrong, so what I want to know is-- why did you really want to go to war?"

He called Helen "flat wrong" about four times--"with all due respect" of course. He had to shush her four times to finish his answer.

He also called out Elizabeth (I'm assuming Bumiller) for being half-asleep during a recent press conference. Oh, fun times.

I'm looking for a transcript. In the meantime, here's the story Drudge posted.

UPDATE: More fun with reporters, this time an exchange between Lt. General Peter Chiarelli and the press on Operation Swarmer. Via Ace

UPDATE 2: Here's the transcript.

The Helen Thomas exchange:

BUSH: Helen, after that brilliant performance at the Gridiron, I am...

QUESTION: You're going to be sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: Well, then, let me take it back.

QUESTION: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President -- your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime.

Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, your Cabinet officers, former Cabinet officers, intelligence people and so forth -- but what's your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil, the quest for oil. It hasn't been Israel or anything else. What was it?

BUSH: I think your premise, in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- that I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect.

QUESTION: And...

BUSH: Hold on for a second, please. Excuse me. Excuse me.

No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true.

BUSH: My attitude about the defense of this country changed in September the 11th. When we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people.

Our foreign policy changed on that day. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life.

And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people, that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy, and that's why I went into Iraq.

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: Hold on for a second. Excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for Al Qaida.

BUSH: That's where Al Qaida trained and that's where...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Helen, excuse me.

That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for Al Qaida. That's where they trained, that's where they plotted, that's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council. That's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed.

And the world said, "Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences." And therefore, we worked with the world. We worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world.

And when he chose to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Secretary Rumsfeld...

BUSH: You're welcome.

I didn't really regret it. I kind of semi-regretted it.