On a replay this evening I watched the president's Meet the Press interview in its entirety. On balance I'd say he and his advisors made a mistake scheduling this interview.
It's not lost on me that I'm probably not the best one to evaluate his performance, given my critical stance toward his administration. But, with that caveat, what I saw was a president who was either unwilling or unable to address the essential points of his domestic and foreign policy record.
Most of his responses were disjointed collections of slogans and administration talking points, with a number of disingenuous or outright dishonest points tossed in.
Peggy Noonan had a column up this afternoon arguing that speeches are about philosophy and vision, while interviews are about policy and particulars. Bush is good at speeches, she says, not so good at interviews.
I have a different opinion.
I'm rewatching a segment right now where the president goes on about a highway spending bill. He seems to have the policy issue and the facts down fine.
The issue, I think, is that right now the president doesn't have a particularly good story to tell or a particularly good explanation for why almost nothing he's said would happen (budget, Iraq, etc.) has happened. That's a problem.
So when he goes on an hour-long interview he doesn't sound very good. And since he's not willing to confront the debacle of the weapons search, the fiscal mess, or what's happening on the ground in Iraq he comes off sounding evasive, incoherent and out of touch with what's happening on his watch.