January 12, 2009
Press Conference by the President
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
[This is a very abbreviated and edited version]
Thank you. Tapper.
[I almost said “Topper]
We have been through a lot together. As I look through the room,
[My eyesight is much better than my hindsight]
I see Jake, Mike, Herman, Ann Compton. Just seemed like yesterday that--that I was on the campaign trail and you were analyzing my speeches and my policies. And I see a lot of faces that travel with me around the world and -- to places like Afghanistan and Iraq and Africa.
[Where many of those faces are now ghosts]
I see some new faces, which goes to show there's some turnover in this business.
[My favorite turnover is apple]
Through it all, it's been -- I have respected you.
[But not myself]
Sometimes didn't like the stories that you wrote or reported on.
[Like those stories on my fraudulent war in Iraq]
Sometimes you misunderestimated me.
[And sometimes---I estimate---I’ve been under miss]
And so here at the last press conference, I'm interested in answering some of your questions.
Thank you for those comments, Mr. President. Here's a question. I'm wondering if you plan to ask Congress for the remaining $350 billion in bail money. And in terms of the timing, if you do that before you leave office, sir, are you motivated in part to make life a little easier for President-
[Well, first of all, that word “bail” brings to mind other connotations…you know, like bail for jail]
I have talked to the President-elect about this subject. And I told him that if he felt that he needed the $350 billion, I would be willing to ask for it.
[I have been very good at asking for money, getting it, and spending it]
In other words, if he felt it needed to happen on my watch.
[I’ve got a Micky Mouse watch]
So you haven't made the request yet?
Well, he hasn't asked me to make the request yet. And I don't intend to make the request unless he specifically asks me to make it.
And that lunch the other day was interesting, to have two guys who are nearly 85, two 62-year-olders, and a 47-year-old -- kind of the classic generational statement.
And President-Elect Obama is fixing…to get sworn in…
[And the American people are swearing to celebrate when I get out]
and then they'll have the lunch and all the -- you know, all the deal up there on Capitol Hill.
[Same deal…just different cards]
And then he'll come back and go through [Not around] the inauguration and then he'll walk in the Oval Office [After he walks into the Oval Office], and there will be a moment when the responsibilities of the President land squarely on his shoulders.
[Plus all of the screw-ups from my administration]
Thank you, Mr. President. Do you believe that the Gaza conflict will have ended by the time you leave office? Do you approve of the way that Israel has conducted it? And why were you unable to achieve the peace deal that you had sought?
Remind me of the three points, will you, because I'm getting –
[Dumber and dumber]
Will it end by the time you leave office? Do you approve of th---
I hope so. I'm for a sustainable cease-fire.
[Because there has been a lot of bloody stains and fire]
And a definition of a sustainable cease-fire is that Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel. And there will not be a sustainable cease-fire if they continue firing rockets.
[So---as long as Israel has a stranglehold on Gaza---the rockets will continue to get fired…and bombing Gaza will not cease]
Do you approve of the Israeli conduct in this?
I think Israel has a right to defend herself. Why haven't we achieved peace? That's a good question. It's been a long time since they've had peace in the Middle East.
[So long I can’t remember when…can you?]
Step one is to have a vision for what peace would look like.
[Not like my vision of bombing Iraq. That was God’s idea---not mine---but it gave me the vision I needed]
And in 2002, on the steps of the Rose Garden, I gave a speech about a two-state solution---two states, two democracies living side by side in peace. And we have worked hard to advance that idea.
[I’m just not sure what the hard work is that was done…are you?]
And what is the greatest and most urgent threat when it comes to security that Barack Obama has to deal with?
The most urgent threat that he'll have to deal with, and other Presidents after him will have to deal with, is an attack on our homeland.
[I like to use that word “homeland” because I’m going to land in my new home soon]
You know, I wish I could report that's not the case, but there's still an enemy out there that would like to inflict damage on America---
[Enemies such as tainted tomatoes…or peanut butter with salmonella in it or…]
You said in an interview earlier this weekend, one of these, I guess, exit interviews, that---
This is the ultimate exit interview.
[Well, I guess except for kicking the bucket]
---that you think the Republican Party needs to be more inclusive. Who needs to hear that message inside the Republican Party?
You see, I am concerned that, in the wake of the defeat, that the temptation will be to look inward and to say, well, here's a litmus test you must adhere to.
[Because looking inward might make you see your conscience]
This party will come back. But the party's message has got to be that different points of view are included in the party.
And so my point was…is that our party has got to be compassionate and broad-minded.
[And passionate and mindful of broads…well, I guess that party’s been going on for some time]
I remember the 1964 elections. My dad happened to be running for the United States Senate then and, you know, got landslided with the Johnson landslide in the state of Texas.
[Landslide? Which mountain was that and where was it in Texas?]
In the past, when you've been asked to address bad poll numbers or your own popularity, you've said that history will judge that you did the right thing, that you thought you did the right thing. But without getting into your motives or your goals, I think a lot of people, including Republicans, including some members of your own administration, have been disappointed at the execution of some of your ideals, whether Iraq or Katrina or the economy. What would your closing message be to the American people about the execution of these goals?
Well, first of all, hard things don't happen overnight, Jake.
[But bad things can]
And when the history of Iraq is written, historians will analyze, for example, the decision on the surge. The situation was--- looked like it was going fine and then violence for a period of time began to throw---throw the progress of Iraq into doubt. And rather than accepting the status quo and saying, oh, it's not worth it or the politics makes it difficult or, you know, the party may end up being -- you know, not doing well in the elections because of the violence in Iraq, I decided to do something about it -- and sent 30,000 troops in as opposed to withdrawing.
[This last paragraph was way too wordy and kind of confusing]
Who best can spend your money, the government or you? And I have always sided with the people on that issue.
[I’ve sided with the people who spend your money, and I’ve spent more of your money than all previous presidents combined]
Now, obviously these are very difficult economic times. And I readily concede I chunked aside some of my free market principles [It just took me eight years to do so] [But I also chunked aside many moral principles when I became President] when I was told by chief economic advisors that the situation we were facing could be worse than the Great Depression.
And so, yes, look, there's plenty of critics in this business; I understand that. And I thank you for giving me a chance to defend a record that I am going to continue to defend, because I think it's a good, strong record.
[And I’m very defensive]
I'm just wondering, as you look back, why you think you engendered such passionate criticism, animosity, and do you have any message specifically to those---to that particular part of the spectrum of your critics?
You know, most people I see, you know, when I'm moving around the country, for example, they're not angry.
[Just irate and hungry]
And they're not hostile people. And they -- we never meet people who disagree, that's just not true.
[If it's not true, why did I just say we didn’t meet people who disagreed?]
I've met a lot of people who don't agree with the decisions I make. But they have been civil in their discourse.
I don't know why they get angry. I don't know why they get hostile.
[Are they upset because I’ve bankrupted their country with wars?]
I'm the kind of person that, you know, is willing to take on hard tasks [Like getting rid of armadillos and brush], and in times of war people get emotional [and bloody]; I understand that. Never really, you know, spent that much time, frankly, worrying about the loud voices.
[I’ve ignored them for eight years]
I of course hear them, but they didn't affect my policy, nor did they affect -- affect how I made decisions.
[I just ignored them…because…I WAS THE DECIDER!]
I don't see how I can get back home in Texas and look in the mirror and be proud of what I see [Which is perfectly understandable]
if I allowed the loud voices, the loud critics, to prevent me from doing what I thought was necessary to protect this country.
[So---like a vampire---I have avoided looking at mirrors]
Mr. President, thank you very much. Since your philosophy is so different from President-Elect Obama's, what concerns you the most about what he may attempt to do?
It's going to be---you know, he's going to get in the Oval Office, he's going to analyze each situation, and he's going to make the decisions that he think is necessary.
There is an enemy that still is out there.
[How many times do I need to remind you?]
You know, people can maybe try to write that off as, [As I have written off Osama bin Laden] you know, he's trying to set something up. [Obama not Osama…well, I guess both are trying to set something up]
I'm telling you there's an enemy that would like to attack America, Americans, again.
There just is. That's the reality of the world. And I wish him all the very best.
[Who? The enemy?]
And I'm not trying to play "gotcha," [Or hooch...Ah...] but I wonder, when you look back over the long arc of your presidency [Or in your case the long circle of shame and lies], do you think, in retrospect, that you have made any mistakes? And if so, what is the single biggest mistake that you may have made?
I've thought long and hard about Katrina --
[I met her at Yale] you know, could I have done something differently, like land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge. The problem with that and -- is that law enforcement would have been pulled away from the mission. And then your questions, I suspect, would have been, how could you possibly have flown Air Force One into Baton Rouge [I don‘t even have a pilot‘s license]…
Mr. President, often Presidents go -- leave here; they say they're going to decompress, and then pretty soon they're right back in their office. I wonder how quickly you think you're going to be back at it, whether it's writing your book, whether it's speaking, whether it's traveling, whether it's --
[Doing some lines? Or pouring down a few?]
You know, Mike, I don't know. Probably the next day. I'm a Type A personality [The A stands for alcohol], you know, I just -- I just can't envision myself, you know, the big straw hat and Hawaiian shirt sitting on some beach.
[Maybe the big cowboy hat in a cowboy shirt clearing some brush]
You arrived here wanting to be a uniter, not a divider. Do you think Barack Obama can be a uniter, not a divider? Or is -- with the challenges for any President and the unpopular decisions, is it impossible for any President to be uniter, not a divider?
I hope the tone is different for him than it has been for me.
[Because I have been tone-deaf]
It's just the rhetoric got out of control at times --
[As well as my ability to use English]
I don't know why. You need to ask those who -- those who used the words they used.
[Just don't ask me]
It has been a honor to work with you. I meant what I said when I first got up here.
[When did I get up here and what did I say?]
God bless you.
IT WAS THE OIL AND I WAS STUPID!