If you saw the president's press conference Tuesday, there was no doubt Mr. Bush fervently believes he's doing the right thing in Iraq and effectively fighting terrorism. The president was engaged and challenging especially to critics who have questioned his motives, like White House reporter Helen Thomas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELEN THOMAS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS: Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, billions 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, from your cabinet, former cabinet officers, intelligence people and so forth? What was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil. It hasn't been Israel or anything else. What was it?
PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: You know, I think your premise, in all due respect to your question, and to you as a lifelong journalist, is that, you know, I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just — is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect.
BUSH: No, hold on for a second, please. Let — excuse me. Excuse me. No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that but it's just simply not true. I — my attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We — when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. That's why I went into Iraq.
BUSH: Helen. Excuse me. That's where — Afghanistan provided safe haven for Al Qaeda. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, at this point in his administration, the president would be wise to do more of that, to directly confront critics he believes are full of hot air. The president can't become obsessed with that kind of thing as Richard Nixon did, but he can show the public he feels these people are flat-out wrong.
There's no question the media in America is heavily liberal, every study shows that. And with the rise of the Internet, the far left now dominates the liberal agenda, the far left. To these Kool-Aid drinkers, no personal attack is out of bounds, no distortion too dishonest to use. They're all about the end justifying the means, destroying your political enemy if you can.
"Talking Points" believes Americans find that behavior to be disgusting. And even those who are disenchanted with President Bush want him to answer his critics in an authoritative way. He did that today and I thought it worked.
That's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
We were supposed to run a story tonight on some problems Las Vegas is having, but breaking news intruded. We will get to the story on Friday, which is not ridiculous at all.
But here's something that is, and tragic, as well. Many Americans have neighbors who are difficult, but you can't let it get to you. In Batavia, Ohio, 66-year-old Charles Martin did not control himself and shot a 15-year-old boy dead.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHARLES MARTIN, SHOOTING SUSPECT: I just killed a kid.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just killed a kid?
MARTIN: Yes, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened?
MARTIN: It's something that has been going on for five years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's been going on?
MARTIN: I've been harassed by him and his parents for five years, and today it blew up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your name, sir?
MARTIN: Charles Martin.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
Now Martin is charged with murder. Two lives are over. Ridiculous and unnecessary in the extreme.
—You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel. Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org