I’ll link to a transcript when I find one, but in so many words Bush is saying he’s not going to change Iraq policy or any other policy.
Fun fun fun.
Update: A reporter asked Bush if the troops will come home, and Bush said he wants them to come home to victory. He’s committed, he says. Doesn’t say to what, or to where (snort) but he’s committed. Defeat is not an option, he says. So the fight is on.
Update: Bush was making noises about “changing the tone.” A reporter brought up Bush’s line that if Democrats win, America loses. Bush flipped it off, in so many words, and said Dems need to consider how they are going to conduct themselves.
I get the impression that Bush wants to blame Republican ethical problems on Republican defeat. He’s bringing in a new SecDef in order to find “change” in Iraq. He’s OK with “adjusting” tactics and strategy, but he’s digging in his heels over Iraq and letting Congress know there will be no change in policy from the White House.
Update: Lordy, he’s talking about how “future presidents” will need to continue the war in Iraq.
Update: Mike Allen wrote earlier:
Despite his dramatically weakened political position, the President plans to stand up to Democrats and challenge them to work with him on issues he has been promoting. But the opposition now has little reason to cave.
President George W. Bush plans to respond to last night’s Republican wipeout with a combination of conciliation and firmness that is unlikely to pacify an empowered and emboldened opposition. Aides say that beginning with an appearance in the East Room this afternoon, Bush will try to cast the blue wave as an opportunity rather than a defeat, and will vow to plunge ahead with transformative goals like reworking the Social Security system for fiscal longevity. “The same group of problems are there,” White House Press Secretary Tony Snow tells TIME. “You just will have some different people in the leadership. We have an opportunity to have an activist last two years of this Presidency, which will be good for the country.” Snow, who worked conservative talk radio for three hours yesterday afternoon, said Democrats now “have to decide whether they’re going to be part of the solution, or are going to try to shut down the government for two years and point fingers at the President.”
In other words, Bush’s tune is still “my way or the highway.”
Advisers expect a battle royale over the balance of powers if Democrats use their new subpoena power to try to conduct what the White House is already calling “witch hunts.” Bush and Vice President Cheney have made the expansion of executive power one of their hallmarks, and advisers say they do not plan to give up any of the ground they have won without a fight all the way to the Supreme Court. “We’re going to have a fierce constitutional showdown over the boundaries of power between the executive and legislative branches,” one adviser said. “The executive usually wins those battles, so we think we’ll consolidate our gains.”
Oh, this will be a fun couple of years.
Update: The speech is over. Chris Matthews is making noises about how Bush is responding to the will of the voters on change in Iraq, but what I heard was a non-response response. But Matthews also says that Bush broke with Cheney on Rumsfeld, who wanted Rummy to stay, or else wanted to replace him with a neocon.
Gates has ties to the elder Bush and his old national security team, including James Baker and Brent Scowcroft. We’ll see if that means anything.