King talked with the First Couple in the Blue Room of the White House on the president's 60th birthday, opening the interview with a question about Bush's age: "What does it feel like?"
George said, "I feel pretty good, you know. Feel real good, as a matter of fact, really."
I kept reading because I wanted to see what the president would say about the Iraq war, a disaster now opposed by the majority of Americans.
It was no big surprise that King would only probe Bush's epidermis about the occupation: "Concerning Iraq, do you ever have doubts about it?" And when both Bushes agreed that they haven't lost resolve and that the war in Iraq is making the United States more secure, Larry missed an opportunity to dig a little with a reference to a recent study showing that American terrorism experts say the opposite-that the incursion in Iraq has made us far less safe.
George, then, went on to assert that "it's important to deal with problems before they become acute." This was an opportunity for Larry to ask why Bush split for Crawford after papers crossed his desk, warning that terrorists wanted to hijack planes within the United States and fly them into buildings, killing thousands of Americans. Maybe, just maybe, 9/11 wasn't quite "acute" enough. At the least, King should have reminded Bush that Iraq had nothing to do with September 11.
After a commercial break, King asked Bush about the war again. "Do you ever go to the funerals?"
"No, I don't," Bush replied. When Larry wanted to know why, George continued, "Because it's hard...I want to honor those who sacrificed. I think the best way for me to honor them is to complete the mission..."
No confrontation from King that it makes no sense to honor the fallen by sending more to fall.
And, then, one of the most illuminating moments-Larry asked Bush, "So there is no doubt, if you had it to do over again, knowing the WMDs weren't there, you'd still go in?"
And Bush said, "Yes, This is-we removed a tyrant, who was a weapon-he was an enemy of the United States who harbored terrorists and who had the capacity, at the very minimum, to make weapons of mass destruction. And he was a true threat. Yes, I would have done the same thing."
This is an astonishing revelation. After all, the original premise to invade Iraq was to find the WMD and eliminate their threat to Americans. Most assuredly, if Congress had not been convinced by Bush's fabricated intelligence that weapons existed, its members would never have voted to give George Bush the authority to wage a preemptive war with Iraq. Surely, the American public would not have endorsed Bush's actions either.
So, here we have George Bush, saying on national television that if he'd known then what he knows now, he'd still have waged this war that's sent almost 2,550 American troops to their deaths and thousands to be wounded (some with severe brain injuries and others with multiple amputations) to take down a tyrant who didn't possess WMD.
Where is the outrage over this? Where is the call for justice?
I remember watching Larry King when he interviewed Mark Lunsford a couple of days after nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford's body was discovered. King asked the grieving father if he'd done anything to change his murdered daughter's room. I shook my head in disbelief and said, "Yeah, Larry, I boxed up all the stuffed animals, removed everything pink, and put in a pool table and decorated the walls with sports posters."
King's questionable and anemic interviewing skills are reason enough that more isn't being made of Bush's startling disclosure-an admission that is characteristically Bushian in its righteous certitude. But there's the added truth that George Bush is painful to watch and hear. Had more Americans listened, there would be a louder, stronger demand for the impeachment of a president who has betrayed the trust of our military, the American people, and the citizens of Iraq.