President Bush calls on Helen Thomas during press conference; question stirs debate

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

President Bush in the James S. Brady Briefing Room during the press conference.

During a press conference on Tuesday, President George W. Bush called on veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas for the first time in three years. She asked, "... your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war?"

Bush replied, "And when [Saddam Hussein] chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it."

The exchange has provoked extreme responses in the blogosphere, with conservative commentators like Fred Barnes of Fox News portraying Helen Thomas as being "unprofessional" and "improper" in "accusing the President."

Barnes argued, "Reporters aren't supposed to fire accusations at the President or anybody else they're interrogating, and that was wrong." He pointed out that Helen Thomas is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq and the Presidency of George W. Bush. Fox News reporter Brit Hume said of Thomas, "She has an agenda, period, and always has had an agenda of sorts." Conservative commentators mostly agreed that President Bush "got the better of the exchange."

Liberal commentators like Josh Marshall from Talking Points Memo focused on the President's response, saying, "Of course, that's not what happened. [...] We got the resolution passed. Saddam called our bluff and allowed the inspectors in. President Bush pressed ahead with the invasion." He added "His lies are so blatant that I must constantly check myself so as not to assume that he is simply delusional or has blocked out whole chains of events from the past."

Wikipedia Learn more about Rationale for the Iraq War on Wikipedia.