When President Bush gets into trouble, as he did yesterday with his off-message comment that "No, I don't think you can" win the "war on terror," he knows he can turn to Rush Limbaugh to help him get back on course. Bush made an appearance on Limbaugh's program this afternoon from Des Moines, Iowa, where Rush commiserated with his president about his gaffe -- "I think I know what you meant," Limbaugh assured him.
Predictably, Bush didn't have to worry about hardball on this show. From the transcript:
"RUSH: ... But John Edwards is out there saying (paraphrased), "A-ha! Bush is now flip-flopping, and we, John Kerry and I, we can win this, and Bush is..." What did you mean by this?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate you bringing that up. Listen, I should have made my point more clear about what I was saying, you know, what I meant. What I meant was that this is not a conventional war. It is a different kind of war. We're fighting people who have got a dark ideology who use terrorists, terrorism, as a tool. They're trying to shake our conscience. They're trying to shake our will, and so in the short run the strategy has got to be to find them where they lurk. I tell people all the time, "We will find them on the offense. We will bring them to justice on foreign lands so we don't have to face them here at home," and that's because you cannot negotiate with these people and in a conventional war there would be a peace treaty or there would be a moment where somebody would sit on the side and say we quit. That's not the kind of war we're in, and that's what I was saying. The kind of war we're in requires, you know, steadfast resolve, and I will continue to be resolved to bring them to justice, but as well as to spread liberty -- and this is one of the interesting points of the debate, Rush, is that, you know, I believe societies can be transformed because of liberty, and I believe that Iraq and Afghanistan will be free nations, and I believe that those free nations right there in the heart of the Middle East will begin to transform that region into a more hopeful place, which in itself will be a detriment to the ability to these terrorists to recruit -- and that's what I was saying. I probably needed to be a little more articulate."
No worries, Mr. President. Limbaugh let Bush know it was "an honor and a thrill" to speak to him.
"Well, make no mistake about something," Rush said. "I can't speak for everybody, but I can speak for quite a few. They love you out there, Mr. President, and they only wish you the best."