: I’m at the AP lunch for Bush.
The head of the AP offered a toast to the President. (Slight ironic chortle.)
He turns to the dias and greets “the politburo.”
He says he will talk to us about maintaining lasting prosperity “and then I’ll be glad to duck some questions.”
He’s talking about what we need to maintain prosperity: a balanced legal system with tort reform… controlling health care costs in consumer hands…
He pushes again for competitive broadband available to every house by 2007. He says we should not tax access. “The federal government should deny taxation to broadband access.” And we need good regulatory policy, he adds.
“We’re lagging a little bit on broadband technology.”
He lists open trade and an energy plan. “I think we need to open up a full-scale debate… I think we need ‘nulclear’ energy…”
Add job-training programs…
“There needs to be permanency in the tax code… We don’t need to be raising taxes right now.”
“If we can ever get rid of the death tax it’ll get rid of 30 percent of the tax code, they tell me.” Applause on that one.
“My job is to like think beyond the immediate,” he says in conclusion.
Oops, then he adds security. “We’re at war. And it’s a different kind of war… There’s no such thing as innocence or guilt… They attacked today in Basra and Riyadh… In this war against this enemy, we must use all our assets…. We must rely on our alliances. And I’ll tell you the cooperation has been good… Alliances are really important in the war against terror. International bodies can be really important in the war against terror if they’re effective. They’re lousy if they’re not affective. We’re in a results-oriented game now.”
On the terrorists: “These guys are tough and sophisticated and smart. We just have to be smarter.”
“We’re making pretty good progress. If al Qaeda were a board of directors, the chairman and vice chairman are still out there but the middle management is gone.”
Bush plugs the movie Osama. “It’s hard for the American mentality to grasp how barbaric the Taliban was was toward woman… So see the movie. It speaks better than I can speak.”
He replays the Iraq story; nothing new there. “The world is better off for it and so are the people of Iraq… Democracy is growing in the heart of the Middle East.”
“I think everybody needs to be free and I think everyone can self-govern.”
He tells about meeting Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi. He likes Elvis. He likes Gary Cooper. “He comes up to me and says, ‘You like Cooper?’ I say, ‘Yeah, I like Cooper.’ Then I finally figured out what he meant.”
On Iraq: “We’re not going to cut and run if I’m in the Oval Office… I believe freedom in the heart of the Middle East is a historic chance to chance the world.”
On Korea: “Different threats are dealt with different ways.”
“The long-term strategy of this government is to spread freedom across the world.” He says a free Iraq and Palestine will be agents of peace.
On Sharon and the pullout: “In my judgment, the world should have said, ‘Thank you, Ariel.’” One person applauds. Bush notes the silence.
“The Palestinian people have failed their people year after year after year.”