Bush’s Cheat Sheet

An alert reader of Atrios saw this picture of Bush

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from yesterday’s cabinet meeting.

He captured and blew up Bush’s notes from the meeting (heh heh). Here they are:

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As best as I can tell, the left hand page says:

"Saddam was a threat . . . sworn enemy of U.S. . . . destabilizing force in volatile part of the world . . . (?????) . . . has WMD – used them . . . ties to terrorist orgs . . . contacts with al Qaeda over last decade"

The right hand page is a list of reporters, including Deb Reichmann (AP), David Morgan, John Roberts, Ann Compton . . .

At the cabinet meeting press conference, Bush took two questions from two reporters. They just happened (coincidentally) to be "Deb" and "Morgan", the top two names on his right-hand-page list. Here’s the partial transcript:

BUSH (continuing): Yet our military on the ground has done an excellent job of making sure the conditions are such that an Iraqi government can emerge and lead their nation to the better days.

I’ll be glad to answer a couple of questions. Deb, why don’t you lead it off?

Q Mr. President, why does the administration continue to insist that Saddam had a relationship with al Qaeda, when even you have denied any connection between Saddam and September 11th. And now the September 11th Commission says that there was no collaborative relationship at all.

THE PRESIDENT: The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. For example, Iraqi intelligence officers met with bin Laden, the head of al Qaeda, in the Sudan. There’s numerous contacts between the two.

I always said that Saddam Hussein was a threat. He was a threat because he had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He was a threat because he was a sworn enemy to the United States of America, just like al Qaeda. He was a threat because he had terrorist connections — not only al Qaeda connections, but other connections to terrorist organizations; Abu Nidal was one. He was a threat because he provided safe-haven for a terrorist like Zarqawi, who is still killing innocent inside of Iraq.

No, he was a threat, and the world is better off and America is more secure without Saddam Hussein in power.

Let’s see — Morgan.

Q Mr. President, given your administration’s assertions that it works closely with the International Red Cross, are you disappointed that Secretary Rumsfeld instructed military officials in Iraq to hold a member of Ansar al-Islam without telling Red Cross officials?

THE PRESIDENT: The Secretary and I discussed that for the first time this morning. And he’s going to hold a press conference today to discuss that with you. I’m never disappointed in my Secretary of Defense. He’s doing a fabulous job, and America is lucky to have him in the position he’s in. But the Secretary will hold a press conference today, and you might want to ask him that question at his press conference.

Thank you.

The other right hand page, I can’t make out, but I can see at the bottom "Contacts with Al Q . . . (?????) to share (information?)"

Now, what does all this mean?

It means that the President still needs to take notes on his standard line, one which even I could recite by heart. In other words, he’s an idiot or he has some memory problems.

It also means that much of the WH press pool are merely stenographers. Well, think about it. If you are a reporter and ask, you know, PROBING questions, you don’t get invited to the cabinet room. So you curry favor with the White House by pitching softball questions — questions to which the President has already prepared an answer. The top right hand page is a list of reporters that was obviously handed to the President before the press conference (the writing is different, the paper siae is smaller). Who wrote the list (Scotty McClellan, I’m guessing), and why are THOSE names on the list?

What do you think?