"You're the president, though, and we're not"

By Jeff Horwitz

Published January 13, 2005 1:45AM (EST)

When War Room learned that the Washington Times landed an exclusive interview with President Bush, we didn't have terribly high expectations: After all, the paper is owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and is notorious for its hard-right political slant. But the interview is an embarrassment even for a paper that loses millions of dollars every year and is owned by a cult leader. Various sections are helpfully subtitled "Enthusiasm is high," "Constructive changes," "A rigorous agenda" and "The right decisions." Here are some of the hard-hitting questions the Times' editors asked in between finishing Bush's sentences for him and addressing the president in the third person:

James Lakely, White House correspondent: How hard are you willing to fight to get your judicial picks on the bench, especially with important Supreme Court nominees coming up in the future?

President Bush: Well, look, I was very disappointed in the first four years that they filibustered -- I can't remember the number -- but a lot, as far as I was concerned, of good people.

Wesley Pruden, editor in chief: Many Christians today think that faith is kind of under attack in America, and they're even talking about whether you should use the Bible to take the oath of office. What would you say -- what do you think is the proper role of your personal faith in the public arena?

Bush: First of all, I will have my hand on the Bible. I read the article today, and I don't -- it's interesting, I don't think faith is under attack. I think there are some who worry about a president who is faith-based, a person who openly admits that I accept the prayers of the people, trying to impose my will on others...

Tony Blankley, editor of the editorial page: Mr. President, I'm puzzled by one thing only... Every expert I talk to, other than senior members of your administration, ... they all tell me -- I'm not an expert -- that we need to expand our total active forces by a measurable amount what puzzles me is, what are they all missing?

Bush: Well ... our military policy, for example, the troop size in Iraq, is not driven here in the White House. It is driven by the decisions and ... the recommendations of [Gen.] John Abizaid and Gen. George Casey. And it's really important that that's how a war be fought, that -- and I would hope it brings great comfort to you as a concerned citizen -- the commander in chief makes the military decisions based upon the recommendations from the field...

Kenneth Hanner, national editor: Mr. President, some of your staunchest conservative supporters are disappointed with the rate of increase in the domestic-spending programs in your first term. Which federal agencies or programs would you be willing to just cut from the budget? ... There's nothing in this entire federal government we just could ax out and get rid of?

Bush: Yes, we've zeroed out quite a few in our budgets. I need to get you a list of them...

Blankley: How is Barney reacting to the new puppy in the house?

Bush: I'm glad you asked. The world's greatest dog is out there somewhere.

Pruden: The world's greatest living dog.

Bush: Thank you.

Pruden: My late dog was the world's greatest dog. [Laughter.]

Bush: Since you've got the pen, I agree with you. [Laughter.]

And just in case you're wondering whether Bush is grateful that millions of people around the world pray for him, well, the Washington Times has got the scoop-of-an-answer for you.

Jeff Horwitz

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