Who says Bush ever linked Iraq and 9/11? Why just this week he very carefully distinguished between the two in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams:
WILLIAMS: Do you have any moments of doubt that we fought a wrong war? Or that there’s something wrong with the perception of America overseas?
BUSH: Well those are two different questions, did we fight the wrong war, and absolutely — I have no doubt — the war came to our shores, remember that. We had a foreign policy that basically said, let’s hope calm works. And we were attacked.
WILLIAMS: But those weren’t Iraqis.
BUSH : They werenât, no, I agree, they weren’t Iraqis, nor did I ever say Iraq ordered that attack, but they’re a part of, Iraq is part of the struggle against the terrorists.
Update: From Reader AS:
You left out the best part: “Now in terms of image, of course I worry about American image. We are great at TV, and yet we are getting crushed on the PR front. I personally do not believe that Saddam Hussein picked up the phone and said, ‘al-Qaida, attack America.‘”
After denying that Iraq ordered the attack, it seems to occur to Bush that he wasn’t quite specific enough in describing his straw man — or that he didn’t quite nail this week’s talking point — and so he comes back around to take a firm stand against something that exactly zero people believe.
The unfortunate part of that interview, though, was that Williams had Bush right in the crosshairs when he began to ask him what led him to read “The Stranger”. Bush says that Laura recommended it, but then Williams unfortunately wanders where Bush wants — into a discussion of the other books he’s read, low expectations, etc. If only Williams had given Bush some more room to talk — or asked a followup like “What about the book made her think you’d like it?” — he might have gotten closer to what people really want to know, which is whether Bush actually read Camus. Sigh.