In an interview last night with Fox News’ Brit Hume, President Bush reminded the nation why many people admire him (and Democrats despise him) and find it refreshing to have someone like him in the Oval Office.
Here are some highlights (with emphasis added):
Faith and Sense of Perspective
HUME: Now, your faith is an integral part of your life. How often do you pray? Where you do you pray?
BUSH: Well, I pray daily, and I pray in all kinds of places. I mean, I pray in bed, I pray in the Oval Office. I pray a lot. . . . And faith is an integral part of my life.
HUME: How do you hold the situation in Iraq in juxtaposition to your faith?
BUSH: . . . I would never use God to promote foreign policy decisions. I recognize that in the eyes of an almighty, I am a lowly sinner, and I ask for strength and wisdom and I pray for calmness when the seas are storming, and I pray for others. I pray for — I pray a lot for families who have lost a life. I went to Walter Reed, was struck by the bravery of our soldiers, and kind of got a quiet moment afterwards and prayed for them and their families.
The other thing about America that is amazing is a lot of people pray for me. . . . And it’s a powerful thought when you think about it. I’m not so sure how you translate that into would I behave differently or not, but it gives me strength and humility, to think others would take time to pray for me.
“Bring ‘Em On”
HUME: A few weeks back, when these terrorists began to appear on the scene [in Iraq] evidently from outside, you said, “Bring ’em on.” What did you mean by that?
BUSH: Well, I was really talking to our troops. I was saying to our troops in the theater that some in the region felt like they could come and take you on. Some felt like — some terrorists, that is — felt like they could beat us. And my point was we’re plenty tough and we will take them on there.
They’ve chosen to fight. They, being al Qaeda types, Ansar Islam types, terrorist groups have chosen to fight American and coalition forces in Iraq. And we are prepared to battle, and we will.
HUME: From a military point of view, do you regard that as a welcome or unwelcome development?
BUSH: That’s an interesting question, because you know I’m a man of peace. And obviously I would hope that we wouldn’t have combat. I also live in a real world of being the president during a war on terror. So I guess I would rather fight them there than here. I know I would rather fight them there than here, and I know would rather fight them there than in other remote parts of the world, where it may be more difficult to find them.
The Reality of Terrorism
HUME: There are people who suggest that, look, you wouldn’t have to be dealing with these people at all if you hadn’t gone into Iraq. That these, in some sense, are newly recruited or newly minted terrorists. What’s your view of that?
BUSH: That’s probably the same type of person that says that therapy would work in convincing terrorists not to kill innocent life. There is a terrorist network that attacked us on September the 11th, 2001 that is active, that is engaged, that is trying to intimidate the civilized and free world. And this country will continue to lead a coalition against them. You know, in my judgment, the only way to deal with these terrorists is to stay on the offensive, is to find them and bring them to justice before they hurt us again.
U.S. Sense of Responsibility
BUSH: My message [to the UN] is, is that although some of you didn’t agree with the actions we took, now let’s work together to rebuild Iraq, rebuild Afghanistan, fight AIDS and hunger, deal with slavery, like sex slavery, and deal with proliferation. Let’s work together on big issues.
I will make it clear that I made the right decision and the others that joined us made the right decision. The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. The U.N. is going to be — has a chance to be more effective as a result of 1441. That’s the resolution that said if you don’t disarm there will be serious consequences. At least somebody stood up and said this is a definition of serious consequences.
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My attitude about all that is our goals and ambitions are noble. We believe in peace. We strongly believe in freedom. Where we see suffering we will help. And rather than try to offset a nation, why not join nations together to achieve those kind of big objectives?
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[Jacques Chirac] needs to hear this clearly from me, which he will — that America is a good nation, genuinely good. And when we see suffering, we do something about it. And when we see threats, we will deal with the threats; we will deal with the threats before they come back to our shore.
The War on Terror Continues
HUME: How should Americans view the fact that we’ve been two years without an attack on our soil, as a significant major achievement and advance in the war on terror or as the kind of lull you might expect from a determined terrorist organization regrouping to hit again?
BUSH: Well, there have been lulls on our soil, but there haven’t been lulls in the world. . . . These people — these people being the terrorists — will take innocent life anywhere. And so there has been no lull on the war on terror, there has been a lack of activity on our own soil.
HUME: Should we be comforted by that or simply regard that as…
BUSH: No, I think we ought to be thankful. I think we also ought to know that we’ve got to continue to stay on the offensive.
Howard Dean Who?
HUME: Turning to the Democratic field, how do you account for the rise in Howard Dean?
BUSH: Not paying attention to it.
HUME: Not at all?
BUSH: Well, occasionally it blips on my radar screen, but not nearly as much as you would think. I’ve got a job to do. I’m occupied.
The New Tone vs. Democrats’ Discourse
HUME: [T]here’s a certain virulence in the things that [Democrats are] saying about you.
I mean, you had Senator Kennedy the other day accusing the administration of the fact that you were bribing foreign leaders, of a fraudulent war. This is pretty strong medicine in a town that you — where you hope to change the tone. How do you account for this intensity of the Democrats’ feeling about you?
BUSH: . . . I’m disappointed in the tone of some of these senior statesmen.
I mean, Senator Kennedy, who I respect, and with whom I have worked, should not have said we were trying to bribe foreign nations. . . . I don’t mind people trying to pick apart my policies, and that’s fine and that’s fair game. But, you know, I don’t think we’re serving our nation well by allowing the discourse to become so uncivil that people use words that they shouldn’t be using.
. . . I really don’t pay that much attention to it. Obviously, I’m aware of who the candidates are. I have yet to watch a debate. Because I understand that the field will whittle down to one of these days, and that is when we’ll have a good healthy debate. And hopefully I will be able to elevate the discourse in a way that makes people proud of the political dialogue that goes on in the country.
Interested in Getting the News, Not Opinion
BUSH: You know, look, I have great respect for the media. I mean, our society is a good, solid democracy because of a good, solid media. But I also understand that a lot of times there’s opinions mixed in with news.
HUME: I won’t disagree with that, sir.
BUSH: I appreciate people’s opinions, but I’m more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources.