RUSH: I want to start today’s program, ladies and gentlemen, by giving a huge shout out — a huge attaboy — to the troops over in Iraq, and I want to do it early in this hour because this hour of the program is broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio network around the world, and the men and women serving in uniform will hear it. We have received the progress report. We received this interim progress report. The Drive-Bys have done everything they can to cast it in a negative light, as we knew they would. That’s their action line. But in less than a month of full surge troop strength over there, this is the first good news that the Drive-Bys can’t possibly hide in I don’t know how long. Here’s just some of the details. You have basically half of the benchmarks are great, half of them are not so good, and then the other two are 50-50. The jury is still out. In terms of the sectarian killings in Baghdad, there has been a decline since the surge began. A decline in bombings, a decline in Iraqi casualties — and high-profile bombings for the New York Times to report on have also declined. Our people in uniform over there are moving the ball and kicking butt, and I want to congratulate and give them a huge shout out here from the EIB Network.
There’s a long way to go. I’m not trying to be overly optimistic here, but this is totally unlike what we were expecting, given this incessant drumbeat of negativity that we are treated to day in and day out. We have a long way to go, but this is really, really positive news. What’s it like today to be a Democrat? What must it be like to be a Democrat and have to get up and spin the good news? ‘Hmm, the military is showing progress. Well, where are the negatives here that I can use? There’s gotta be government negatives that I can use. Oh, yeah! The Iraqi government! The Iraqi government isn’t working. That’s it. The Iraqi government’s not working! Okay, the benchmarks of the Iraqi government. Maliki is not meeting the benchmarks too well. The political process is not going well. Oh, good!’ That’s something the Democrats can harp on.
RUSH: Now, I know the benchmark news is good on the military side. On the political side — and we’ll have Tony Snow here at the top of the next hour to discuss all this. But, frankly, folks, all this benchmark stuff, even with the good news on the military side, frankly, who cares? Who really cares about the benchmarks? These benchmarks were imposed by leftists in Congress.
There’s a story here in the stack from the Los Angeles Times, and the headline is: ‘Administration Foiled By Own Iraq Goals,’ and the point of this story is that by agreeing to benchmarks, Bush gave critics ammo to hurt the effort when it comes up short. I’m sure that was the intent of the leftists in Congress who came up with this whole benchmark idea. The president was just trying to be cooperative with him. You know the way he is. But these benchmarks are imposed by the leftists in Congress, and the ones that came back today in this interim report don’t show that the Iraqi government is doing too well. Well, let me tell you something. We are in Iraq — and I’ve said this repeatedly — and we are there because it is in our national security interests. This is not just a stabilize-the-country mission. There is much, much more to it. Frankly, the president was great today in explaining the rationale. Our military, along with Iraqi armed forces, are making solid progress. The interim report indicates that. The Sunnis are now turning on Al-Qaeda, and that’s all that matters. What we have here is we have an incompetent, obstructionist Democrat Congress which has accomplished nothing good for this country, trying to use benchmarks to tell another legislative body it’s not up to standards? The Democrat Party and the Democrat-led Congress is one-for-seven in its benchmarks, and that one is a worthless minimum wage bill.
These guys have no business telling anybody else, fledgling or otherwise, how to do their jobs. It’s pretty funny if you stop and think about it. Our Congress can’t do anything right or well right now, despite the fact that our politicians live in luxury. They don’t have to worry about getting gunned down or running into a roadside bomb on the way to work every day. They live in the lap of luxury, and he still can’t get anything done. Our politicians live in a safe country. (No thanks to them, by the way.) Our Congress sets down standards for everybody else, but they can’t even fund the military; they can’t control taxing and spending; they can’t control the border; they can’t reform Social Security and Medicare, but this Congress will tell everybody else what they have to do, and that it must be done tomorrow! A bunch of incompetent boobs in the Democrat Party running this Congress can’t do diddly-squat in the House or Senate, and they dare to sit and tell a fledgling little democracy like Iraq and Prime Minister Maliki, ‘You aren’t good enough, pal. You aren’t moving fast enough to meet our standards.’ Sorry, folks. It doesn’t wash.
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid now run Congress. They are responsible for what does or does not occur there. They keep talking about Bush this and Bush that, but they have the power of the purse. They can come up with fixes for entitlement programs. They can de-fund the war if that’s really what the American people want. They can initiate tax cuts for all Americans. They can confirm solid judges. They can direct funding for border security. They can do all these things. Yet they do nothing! All they do is harass and investigate the administration and now tell the government of Iraq that it ain’t good enough and it’s not moving fast enough, that the benchmarks aren’t being met. They probably gave them some impossible benchmarks to meet anyway. Let me suggest something. For all I know, which is a constant judgment and assessment of this Congress, the Iraqi parliament may well be more competent and more successful than our Democrat Congress. Harry Reid can only hope to be as good as Maliki. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, who has nothing good to say about the Iraqi government — and this is something, folks, I want you to hear me on. This is important.
Nancy Pelosi, who has nothing good to say about the Iraqi government, an ally of the United States, slobbers all over the Iranian and Syrian terrorist regimes — and we learn in this report that the Syrians are sending ’50 to 80 suicide bombers per month for al Qaeda in Iraq,’ and she’s over there breaking bread with this little Bashar Assad? She doesn’t criticize the conduct of the Syrians. She doesn’t criticize the conduct of the Iranians in slaughtering American soldiers, in torturing and imprisoning dissidents, attacking Israelis and all the rest. She broke bread with the mas murderer of Syria, and he wants to go do the same thing with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in Iran, and she was all happy about the pictures. She tried to present the pictures to the world that she runs this country, that George W. Bush doesn’t, that the US Congress does. Well, she’s not got much to point to in terms of her accomplishments to make the world proud of what she’s doing — and yet they sit there and they demand that other legislatures, other legislative bodies do it, do it right and do it tomorrow, or receive our condemnation. Why doesn’t Congress set out any benchmarks for Syria? Why doesn’t Congress set any benchmarks for Iran?
They can sit there and make all these benchmarks for Iraq all day long. Well, let’s set some benchmarks for the Iranian nuclear program. Let’s have some benchmarks here for Syria and some of these other terrorist regimes. We are holding the Iraqi government to standards that our own Congress can’t meet. Another example: We hear it said that they can’t even agree on how to split up oil revenue. Yes, they’re having a problem with dividing the wealth in Iraq. Of course, our people in this country and the Congress say, ‘Oh, that’s horrible! They can’t even figure out how to split up the oil revenue?’ Well, our damn Congress can’t even agree to open up drilling in ANWR! Our Congress can’t even agree to reduce regulations to allow the construction of refineries. To tell the Iraqis where they’re screwing up in their energy program? No nuclear plants are being built, no new refineries are being built. They don’t do anything to get rid of the regulations that actually would help us become energy independent. We have no effective energy policy — and yet here they are pointing fingers at the Iraqi regime for not figuring out a way to share the wealth. I think we should take some of these benchmarks that I have just mentioned, the failures of the US Congress, measure our Congress against them, and give them a grade and let’s see how the Democrat Congress would fare under such benchmarks.
RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, I need to issue an apology because as I was honest with you about, I arrived yesterday for the program in a foul mood. I was highly irritable. I was irritated. I was in a rotten mood, and bad moods can lead to careless thoughts that beg for apologies. Yesterday I asked a question. I said, ‘Where are the leaders in Congress?’ and for that slip-up, I wish to apologize. Congress doesn’t have leaders, and had I not been in an irritable mood yesterday I would not have made this egregious error. Congress doesn’t have leaders; it has politicians. Leaders lead. Politicians play politics, and today there’s no connection between the two. There was a time I can go back not so long ago, where we had leaders in the Senate, like Moynihan. I didn’t always agree with him, but we had leaders. So we’ve gone from people like the leaders and the leading of Daniel Patrick Moynihan to the scheming of Chuck Schumer, the scheming of Pat Leahy. These people are just a bunch of schemers. They’re not leaders. Sam Nunn was a leader on national defense. We’ve gone from Sam Nunn to the politics of defeat of Harry Reid. So I humbly apologize for the slip-up, ladies and gentlemen. I’m even sorrier for the state of our leaders or lack of them. We have schemers in the US Congress today, not leaders. Let’s listen to some of President Bush. We have two sound bites from his opening remarks today at his press conference.
THE PRESIDENT: As president, my most solemn responsibility is to keep the American people safe, so on my orders good men and women are now fighting the terrorists on the front lines in Iraq. I’ve given our troops in Iraq clear objectives, and as they risk their lives to achieve these objectives, they need to know they have the unwavering support from the commander-in-chief, and they do. And they need the enemy to know that America is not going to back down.
RUSH: The president later said…
THE PRESIDENT: The real debate over Iraq is between those who think the fight is lost or not worth the cost, and those who believe the fight can be won, and that as difficult as the fight is, the cost of defeat war far higher. I believe we can succeed in Iraq, and I know we must. So we’re working to defeat Al-Qaeda and other extremists, and aid the rise of an Iraqi government that can protect its people, deliver basic services, and be an ally in the war against these extremists and radicals. By doing this, we’ll create the conditions that would allow our troops to begin coming home while securing our long-term national interests in Iraq and in the region. When we start drawing down our forces in Iraq, it will be because our military commanders say the conditions on the ground are right, not because pollsters say it will be good politics.
RUSH: He had a great answer on polls, because the Drive-Bys kept saying — and, of course, there were no questions from the Drive-Bys about any of the upbeat possibilities. The questions all came from the liberal action line on this whole war. The president deftly handled them, and they kept asking him, ‘Well, what about the American people want a change? The American people want to get out, Mr. President! The American people don’t have any confidence.’ I understand that, he says. ‘I understand we’ve got war fatigue in this country, and it’s led to some psychological problems with the general American mood, but how do you think that the men and women in uniform would react if they found out that their commander-in-chief was talking to focus groups about how to manage and win the war? How do you think they would react? I can’t do it and I won’t,’ and he furthermore said, ‘Congress has one role in this, and that’s to pay for it or not. They are not commanders-in-chief.’ I’m paraphrasing here. ‘They do not get to set day-by-day strategy. They do not get to say they can only go 50 feet that direction, fire only when these circumstances happen.’ He was firing both barrels, but in a reasonable manner of speaking. He wasn’t pounding the podium or anything of that nature, but he really said some good — it was long overdue, I think — powerful things. Listen to this question. The first question today came from Helen Thomas. I guess she got her seat back when they reopened the press room. This is, by the way, the first day they used their newly renovated White House pressroom. Listen to this question.
HELEN THOMAS: Mr. President, you started this war, a war of your choosing, and you can end it alone, today. At this point. Bring in peacekeepers, UN peacekeepers. Two million Iraqis had fled the country as refugees. Two million more are displaced. Thousands and thousands are dead. Don’t you understand, we brought the Al-Qaeda into Iraq?
RUSH: ‘Don’t you understand, we brought the Al-Qaeda into Iraq?’ This is Helen Thomas, considered the Dean of the White House press corps for all of those years. She’s no different than any of the others. They’re all sitting there thinking that. They’re all silently nodding their heads. They’re all going, ‘Yeah, yeah! What do you say to that? You know it’s true. You know she’s right. You know they’re only in Iraq because you went there, a war of your choosing.’ You know they’re all saying that in their own minds. Here’s the president’s answer to that.
THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That’s why I went to the United Nations and worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course. It was his decision to make. Obviously it was a difficult decision for me to make, to send our brave troops along with coalition troops into Iraq. I firmly believe the world is better off with Saddam Hussein in power. Now the fundamental question facing America is: will we stand with this young democracy?
RUSH: And he has every intention of doing so for the rest of his term. I also think that this interim report bodes ill for the cowardly caucus up on Capitol Hill who wants to not wait for the full report to come out in September for General Petraeus. They just want to declare this over with, ‘We’re dead; we’re finished, and let’s get out of there,’ and the president even talked about that today. He said, ‘If you think that we’re just going to come back home here and everything is going to be happy-go-lucky because we got out of there, you do not understand the enemy we face, and you’re not listening to what they themselves are saying in the form of threats.’
RUSH: Here’s another way to look at this interim report: 50% progress. There’s been 50% progress. There are a lot of public schools in this country that can’t make that claim. There’s any number of ways of looking at this. One more George W. Bush sound bite. He got a question from Ed Henry of CNN, basically saying: How do you put up with all this criticism?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I guess I’m like any other political figure. Everybody wants to be loved. Just sometimes the decisions you make and the consequences don’t enable you to be loved. So when it’s all said and done, Ed, when you ever come down and visit the old, tired me down there in Crawford, I will be able to say I looked in the mirror and made decisions based upon principle, not based upon politics, and that’s important to me.
RUSH: President George W. Bush today in his press conference.