You can find the transcript of the Bush-Russert interview all over the Web. It reads better than it played. But six million people saw it, and many millions more will see pieces of it, and they will not be the pieces in which Mr. Bush looks good.
The president seemed tired, unsure and often bumbling. His answers were repetitive, and when he tried to clarify them he tended to make them worse. He did not seem prepared. He seemed in some way disconnected from the event. When he was thrown the semisoftball question on his National Guard experience--he's been thrown this question for 10 years now--he spoke in a way that seemed detached. "It's politics." Well yes, we know that. Tell us more.
And Peggy likes him! So what did those commentators see who might not like Bush as much to begin with? Here's an editorial from the New York Times, the grandmother of the nasty liberal media:
Yesterday, in an interview with NBC's Tim Russert, after a week in which it became obvious to most Americans that the justifications for the war were based on flawed intelligence, Mr. Bush offered his reflections, and they were far from reassuring. The only clarity in the president's vision appears to be his own perfect sense of self-justification.
The president was doing far more yesterday than rolling out the administration's spin for the next campaign. He was demonstrating how he is likely to think if confronted with a similar crisis in the future. The fuzziness and inconsistency of his comments suggest he is still relying on his own moral absolutism, that in a dangerous world the critical thing is to act decisively, and worry about connecting the dots later. Mr. Bush said repeatedly that he went to the United Nations seeking a diplomatic alternative to war. In fact, the United States rejected all diplomatic alternatives at the time, severely damaging relations with some of its most important and loyal allies. "I believe it is essential that when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before they become imminent," he said. "It's too late if they become imminent."
Ouch. I'm eagerly awaiting the debates in the presidential race. Peggy, on the other hand, wants Bush to focus on giving pre-prepared speeches only, because he's more of a philosopher than a nasty politician...