I think Bush finally nailed it. This morning, he was asked about the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and the name game began. Only this time, I believe he did find the right one. I wonder what Frank Luntz will say about it though. Democrats and even many conservatives have a big problem with this program, although Republicans are trying to spin it that Democrats do not want to spy on terrorists.
Q On both the eavesdropping program and the detainee issues --
THE PRESIDENT: We call it the terrorist surveillance program, Hutch.
Q That's the one.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Bush: ....I think that there is a difference of opinion here in Washington about tools necessary to protect the country -- the terrorist surveillance program -- or what did you call it, Hutcheson? yes, the illegal eavesdropping program -- (laughter) -- IEP, as opposed to TSP..
Adele at Tapped agrees with me: "Yes, actually, Mr. President, that's what I would call it." When Bush starts cackling, you know you're onto something.
Also in this clip, a reporter asks Bush about John Boehner's statement--wondering if Democrats are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people. That is such a disgusting thing to say and he should apologize for it, but the Tom Delay fruit doesn't fall far from big tobacco's tree. Bush's response was:
Bush: I wouldn't have exactly put it that way. But I do believe there's a difference of attitude.
I like his parsing of the words. After rambling and some backpedaling, Bush gets his point across: Vote Republican because Democrats love terrorists.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I'd also like to ask an election-related question. The Republican Leader in the House this week said that Democrats -- he wonders if they are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people. Do you agree with him, sir? And do you think that's the right tone to set for this upcoming campaign, or do you think he owes somebody an apology?
THE PRESIDENT: I wouldn't have exactly put it that way. But I do believe there's a difference of attitude. I mean, take the Patriot Act, for example -- an interesting debate that took place, not once, but twice, and the second time around, there was a lot of concern about whether or not the Patriot Act was necessary to protect the country. There's no doubt in my mind we needed to make sure the Patriot Act was renewed to tear down walls that exist so that intelligence people could serve -- could share information with criminal people. It wasn't the case, Mark, before 9/11.
In other words, if somebody had some intelligence that they thought was necessary to protect the people, they couldn't share that with somebody whose job it was to route people out of society to prevent them from attacking. It made no sense. And so there was a healthy debate, and we finally got the Patriot Act extended after it was passed right after 9/11. To me it was an indication of just a difference of approach.
No one should ever question the patriotism of somebody who -- let me just start over. I don't question the patriotism of somebody who doesn't agree with me. I just don't. And I think it's unwise to do that. I don't think that's what leaders do. I do think that -- I think that there is a difference of opinion here in Washington about tools necessary to protect the country -- the terrorist surveillance program -- or what did you call it, Hutcheson, yes, the illegal eavesdropping program -- (laughter) -- IEP, as opposed to TSP. (Laughter.) There's just a difference of opinion about what we need to do to protect our country, Mark. I'm confident the Leader, you know, meant nothing personal. I know that he shares my concern that we pass good legislation to get something done.
Q You're working with Congress sort of after the fact, after you established these programs on your own authority. And federal courts have ruled in both cases, you overstepped your authority. Is your willingness to work with Congress now an acknowledgment that that is a fact?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I strongly believe that the district court ruling on the terrorist surveillance program was flawed. And there's a court process to determine whether or not my belief is true. That's why it's on appeal. We're working with Congress to add certainty to the program.
In terms of the Hamdan decision, I obviously believed that I could move forward with military commissions. Other presidents had. The Supreme Court didn't agree, and they said, work with Congress. And that's why we're working with Congress.