If George W. Bush's joint appearance today with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was supposed to shore up domestic support for the war, it's hard to think that it was much of a success. Talabani's long and rambling talk with the press had even the president looking bored and pained, and the substance of his comments wasn't exactly stirring. The Iraqi president said that the "day will come" that American troops can return to their homes -- "as soon as possible, we hope." Of the Iraqi constitution, he said, "it is not a perfect document" but it compares well with other constitutions in the Middle East and can always be amended in the future.
When Talabani finally finished, the two leaders took a couple of questions from the press. Bush was asked whether, in the wake of Katrina, Americans should be concerned that their government isn't prepared to respond to another national emergency. The president didn't answer the question directly, returning instead to the sort of comments he has made previously about wanting to know what went right and what went wrong in the aftermath of Katrina. Along the way, though, he seemed to acknowledge in a clearer way than he has before that the government failed in its response to the storm. "Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capabilities at all levels of government," Bush said. "And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility."