(by Stephen
Dinan, WashingtonTimes.com)
– President Bush yesterday
pledged to remain in Iraq throughout his presidency and put the issue squarely
at the top of this year’s congressional elections, saying it will be a defining
difference between Republicans and Democrats.
    “Either you
say, yes, it’s important that we stay there and get it done, or we leave. We’re
not leaving so long as I’m the president,” the president said at a press
conference yesterday morning, in which he also announced expanded U.S. aid for
Lebanon and Israel, defended the pace of progress on rebuilding after Hurricane
Katrina and said the United Nations must be ready to impose sanctions on Iran.

    The Iraq war dominated the nearly hourlong session, with
the president defending his goals in the Middle East, although he acknowledged
the war is “straining the psyche” of Americans here at home. He also said he is
concerned about a civil war in Iraq, a term the White House had been avoiding.

    But the president said that if the U.S. loses the will to
help other nations toward freedom, “we will have lost our soul as a nation,”
adding that the terrorists are watching the political debate this year.

    “Any sign that says we’re going to leave before the job
is done simply emboldens terrorists and creates a certain amount of doubt for
people so they won’t take the risk necessary to help a civil society evolve in
the country,” Mr. Bush said. “I’m sure they’re watching the campaign carefully.
There are a lot of good, decent people saying: ‘Get out now; vote for me, I will
do everything I can’ to, I guess, cut off money, is what they’ll try to do to
get our troops out. It’s a big mistake.”
    Democrats said
they welcome the election-year debate and charged Mr. Bush isn’t offering
anything concrete for voters to back.
    “‘Stay the course’
has produced the situation President Bush now decries, and his repeated failure
to offer a new direction provides no hope for a lessening of the sectarian
violence that is the greatest threat to Iraq’s future,” said House Minority
Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “Democrats believe it’s time for a new
direction in Iraq, with responsible redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq that
begins this year.”
    And Sen. John Kerry, the Democrats’
2004 presidential nominee, said Mr. Bush was wrong when he said Iraq was
straining Americans’ psyche.
    “The American psyche isn’t
the problem. The problem is this administration’s disastrous Iraq policy,” the
Massachusetts senator said. “Patience is strained because almost five years
later, Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, and gone is the promise of ‘wanted
dead or alive.’ The administration’s credibility is strained because the
president’s mantra that ‘U.S. troops will stand down as Iraqis stand up’ is
another misleading myth, and ‘stay the course’ is a recipe for disaster when the
course is broken.”
    Mr. Bush stressed that he is not
calling Democrats unpatriotic, but he said the election will be a referendum on
where the two parties stand.
    “Elections are won based
upon economic issues and national-security issues,” he said. “And there’s a
fundamental difference between many of the Democrats and my party, and that is,
they want to leave before the job is completed in Iraq.”
Democratic voters in Connecticut catapulted the issue to the forefront earlier
this month when they nominated Ned Lamont, an anti-war candidate, instead of
incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman. Mr. Lieberman is running as an independent, and
yesterday Mr. Bush gave him a boost by saying he will not endorse the Republican
candidate in that race.
    “I’m going to stay out of
Connecticut,” he said.
    He said that if he were a
candidate, he would run by charging that Democrats will raise taxes, touting
Republican economic policies that he credited with cutting the projected deficit
this year and campaigning on a promise to address long-term Social Security and
Medicare costs.
    Mr. Bush yesterday also:

    =Said he is comfortable with the $110 billion that the
federal government has committed to rescue, recovery and rebuilding from
Hurricane Katrina, but said those on the ground should be patient as the efforts
    -Defended his nominee to head the Food and Drug
Administration, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, in the face of criticism from
conservatives who think he will approve over-the-counter sales of Plan B, a
morning-after contraceptive pill widely attacked in pro-life circles as an
abortifacient. Mr. Bush said that minors should be required to have a
prescription for the pill.
    -Said the United Nations faces
a test later this month as the deadline approaches for Iran to suspend its
nuclear program and must move quickly to approve sanctions if Iran doesn’t meet
the target.
    “In order for the U.N. to be effective, there
must be consequences if people thumb their nose at the United Nations Security
Council,” the president said.

2006 News World Communications, Inc.
  Reprinted with
permission of the Washington Times.  This reprint does not constitute or
imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or
organization.  Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com


1.  What topic did President Bush spend the most time discussing during his press conference yesterday?
(To view the press conference or read the transcript, click here.)

2.  Define
psyche.  Ask an adult – parent, relative, neighbor if the Iraq war is
straining his/her psyche (explain President Bush’s comment from his
press conference).  Also ask the person to explain his/her answer.

3.  Why does President Bush say we must not leave Iraq before the job is done?  Do you agree?  Explain your answer.

4.  How did Democrat leaders respond to President Bush’s remarks?  Do you agree with their statements?  Explain your answer.

5.  Mr. Dinan describes four additional topics the President discussed yesterday in paragraphs 2 and 16-19. 
a) List the topics. 
b) With which do you most agree? Explain your answer.
c) With which do you least agree? Explain your answer.
d) Ask an adult b) and c) after describing a)

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