March, 2003

Before the War

By Roy Rivenburg
Reading Between the Lines: Getting straight answers from the White House is never easy. Presidents are notorious for saying one thing but meaning another. So, after George W. Bush’s March 6 press conference on Iraq, we asked a team of psychics to tell us what he -- and some of the reporters -- were really thinking. 

President Bush: Good evening. I’m pleased to take your questions tonight.
Translation: I beg of you, no math questions.

Bush: We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise.
Translation: Except in North Korea. Their government has missiles that can hit our West Coast, but hey, California didn’t vote for me anyway.

Reporter: Mr. President, how would you answer your critics who say that they think this is somehow personal ... [that] your fixation with Saddam Hussein is making the world a more dangerous place?
Translation: By ‘‘critics,’’ I mean ‘‘me.’’ But I can’t admit that or I won’t appear to be objective.

Bush: I believe Saddam Hussein is a threat to the American people. And I’ve got good evidence to believe that.
Translation: We’re pretty sure he has a voodoo doll that looks like a map of the United States and that he is willing to stick pins into it.

Bush (after being asked whether he’ll seek a U.N. resolution on Iraq even if he might not have enough votes): No matter what the whip count is, we’re calling for the vote.
Translation: I’m not worried about getting enough votes. You saw what I did in Florida.

Bush: Great Britain, Spain and the United States have introduced a new resolution stating that Iraq has failed to meet the requirements of Resolution 1441.
Translation (with apologies to the Beatles): You say you want a resolution, well you know, we don’t listen to the world. You tell me that it’s intervention, well you know, we don’t listen to the world. But if you go protesting war like Martin Sheen, I’ll order our jets to blow you to smithereens.

Bush: We will be changing the regime of Iraq for the good of the Iraqi people.
Translation: We will be changing the regime of Iraq so American SUV drivers don’t have to take out second mortgages to afford a tank of gas.

Bush: We will give [humanitarian workers and U.N. inspectors] a chance to leave Iraq [before we launch our attack]. We don’t want anybody in harm’s way who shouldn’t be in harm’s way. The journalists who are there should leave.
Translation: Except Dan Rather.

Copyright 2003 by Roy Rivenburg