The president fully understands

Whatever it is, Bush says he gets it.

Published March 2, 2007 7:09PM (EST)

At Lil Dizzy's Café in New Orleans Thursday, George W. Bush said: "I fully understand that there are frustrations and I want to know the frustrations. And to the extent we can help, we'll help."

It sounded a little familiar to us, and now we know why: Say what you will about the president's intellectual capabilities, the man fully understands an awful lot of things.

Among them:

Education: "I fully understand that if you read your newspaper articles -- which I do sometimes -- and listen carefully, you'll hear voices in both parties saying they don't like No Child Left Behind: It's too much testing, or, we don't want to be held to account, or whatever they say. The bill is working. It makes a lot of sense."

How Iraq would turn out: "I fully understand the consequences of what we're doing. We're changing the world. And the world will be better off and America will be more secure as a result of the actions we're taking."

How Iraq will turn out: "I told the American people I fully understand there are differences of opinion. But one of the things I have discovered is, in Washington, D.C., most people understand the consequences of failure."

Immigration: "I fully understand the need for there to be simplicity in the documentation. It needs to be easy for somebody who is known and a person that is -- makes a living on the other side of the border. There's -- a lot of kids go to college in, like, El Paso, Texas, and they're living in Mexico, so they've got to go back and forth on a regular basis. So I'm familiar with this issue a lot, and I really do emphasize the need for us to be mindful of what a onerous program could mean to good relations, as well as facilitation of trade."

The price of war: "I fully understand the consequences of making such a decision. I was at church yesterday in Twentynine Palms. In the pew that I was sitting in was a mother and stepfather grieving for a guy who lost his life. And I knew that I would have to deal with this as best as I possibly can."

The power of love: "And the other thing I want to do is to make sure that everybody can feel the great power of love. Again, I fully understand government's role is limited in love."

The job of the president: "I fully understand that as long as I'm the president I will face criticism. It's like part of the job."

The meaning of 9/11: "Listen, one of the interesting things about September the 11th that I want you to understand as we have this discussion is that I fully understand that for some, September the 11th was an important moment and a terrible moment -- and we appreciate the condolences of the people of the Netherlands -- but for us it was a change of attitude. I mean, it changed a lot about how I looked at the world, and a lot of Americans, it changed how they looked at the world. I mean, it was more than just an attack; it was a whole mind-set."

Cheeseheads: "As a matter of fact, I fully understand that right here in the state of Wisconsin, a lot of people are counting on the Social Security check."

Senior citizens: "I fully understand, and our government fully understands, many seniors don't want to change. They're not interested in change. And, therefore, what I'm telling you is, is that at least listen to what's available. You don't have to change if you don't want to, but at least be open-minded enough to listen."

The importance of being open-minded: "Look, I fully understand there is -- I guess, my reputation is, he sticks to his guns and -- it's a very legitimate question, do you ever kind of understand that maybe that you've got to be somewhat flexible?"

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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