Meet the Press

President Bush held a presidential press conference (search) on Wednesday. Here's a quick take, as we say on News Watch, about some of what he said.

Issue one: Bush took responsibility for those 16 words in his State of the Union speech; the ones that said British intelligence had learned that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium in Africa. The first lesson any president should learn is that if you're wrong about something, admit it quickly and the problem will usually go away. The president strung this out, allowing others to accept blame before he stepped up and did the right thing. It wasn't a big deal, but it was made into one by his opponents because he wouldn't admit a small mistake.

Issue two: Same sex marriage. The president came out a lot stronger against it than in previous comments following the Supreme Court decision striking down anti-sodomy laws in Texas. He said marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman and he said administration lawyers are working on how best to codify that in law. The Massachusetts Supreme Court is expected to rule on gay marriage any day. Look for this to be the premiere cultural issue in next year's presidential campaign.

Issue three: Homeland security. The president said the threat of more airplane hijackings by Al Qaeda types is real, but he's confident the U.S. and our allies will thwart their attempts. Let's hope he's right.

Issue four: The president said the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons will bring "changes in attitude in Iraq" and reinforce the reality his government is "gone forever." And he again emphasized that changing Iraq will take time. He said he didn't expect Thomas Jefferson to emerge in Iraq in a 90-day period.

There was a lot more, but these were the highlights. It was the president's first formal news conference since before the Iraq war and only his ninth since taking office. He doesn't like them, but he's getting better and should do more of them.

The Washington Post said he should do more of them in an editorial and the next day he did one. Now that's influence!

And that's Column One for this week.

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