Dubya's "I'm Not Satisfied With Iraq" press conference yesterday was simply odd.
Though very much in sync with the strategy LiberalOasis dissected earlier in the week: "sloppy, last-minute attempts to give an impression that if you want to see a change in course, you can still vote Republican!"
This presser was rambling, desperate, and way too little too late.
"We cannot allow our dissatisfaction to turn into disillusionment about our purpose in this war," said Dubya. You can almost hear the public say, "Wanna bet?"
Talking about purpose, here's one exchange from the conference that surely will attract little media attention, because it's about permanent military bases in Iraq:
JIM RUTENBERG, NY TIMES: Does the United States want to maintain permanent bases in Iraq? And I would follow that by asking, are you willing to renounce a claim on permanent bases in Iraq?
DUBYA: Jim, any decisions about permanency in Iraq will be made by the Iraqi government.
And, frankly, it's not in much of a position to be thinking about what the world is going to look like five or 10 years from now. They are working to make sure that we succeed in the short-term. And they need our help. And that's where our focus is.
But remember, when you're talking about bases and troops, we're dealing with a sovereign government. Now, we entered into an agreement with the Karzai government. They weren't called permanent bases, but they were called arrangements that will help this government understand that there will be a U.S. presence so long as they want them there.
And at the appropriate time, I'm confident we'll be willing to sit down and discuss the long-term security of Iraq. But right now we're discussing how to bring security to Baghdad, and what do we do in al Anbar province, where al Qaeda still uses violent methods to achieve political objectives.
After meandering a bit, Bush moved on to the next reporter with a curt, "Sorry, Rutenberg, you're through."
Perhaps he didn't want to hear a follow-up question about how he got stripped a ban on funding for permanent bases from legislation which had passed both houses of Congress.
Or perhaps he didn't want to hear a follow-up question about how those bases have already been built, making any discussion with the Iraqi government moot.
Or perhaps he didn't want Rutenberg to note that amidst all of Bush's spin, he still refused to renounce the bases, which are widely considered to be a destabilizing force in the region.
The issue is still sitting on the table for Dems to pick up. Dems want to eventually leave Iraq. Republicans want to stay permanently.
That's the biggest difference between the parties on Iraq.