Some unsurprising evaluations on last night's performance:
I've just watched the press conference later on C-SPAN. Not only was the transcript encouraging. I found the president clear, forceful, impassioned, determined, real. This was not an average performance. I found it Bush at his best. He needs to do it more.
I thought Bush was fine though. At first I thought the prepared remarks were a bit too down-tempo. But it became clear his comments were building on each other. I think he set the right tone and said the right things.
Overall, a pretty good opening speech—though he probably should have given it weeks ago. The first question was a "quagmire" question. "How do you answer the Vietnam question?"
I think Bush handled that pretty well, and he looked confident and quick on his feet (for Bush). More importantly, he seemed sincere, and determined ("tough" was an oft-repeated word), while admitting problems.
…I want one of those magic ties.
…I'm guessing 3 questions max. Karl Rove to TV networks—Suckers! thanks for the free air time…
…Secretary of State Rumsfeld? Well, there's some news I guess…
…oy, I'm convinced now—he has an earpiece.
…damn, I thought On Bended Knee Bumiller was on vacation…
…wow, what a disaster. At least someone woke the Hos up a bit.
…wow, from 'no one could picture planes flying into buildings' to 'Genoa threat' in 1.4 minutes.
Whenever asked about the effects of his actions, Bush answered by affirming his virtuous motives. When asked about a situation or development, Bush answered by referencing himself, often with strange third person-like observations of himself. He failed to give even an approximation of an answer to all but a couple of the questions. And most damning, despite being given numerous opportunities, Bush showed he's constitutionally prohibited from accepting responsibility–not blame, responsibility.