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Perino: It’s ‘Demonstrably False’ To Say ‘Bush Was Too Triumphant In His Rhetoric’ About War

By Matt Corley  

"Perino: It’s ‘Demonstrably False’ To Say ‘Bush Was Too Triumphant In His Rhetoric’ About War"

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In a 60 Minutes interview that aired last Sunday night, Steve Kroft asked President Obama why there “were no exhortations or promises of victory” in his West Point speech announcing an escalation in the war in Afghanistan. Saying that it was “probably the most emotional speech” he has made yet, Obama said that he wanted “recognize that there are costs to war” with “a sense of sobriety and clarity about what we’re getting into.” “I think that one of the mistakes that was made over the last eight years is for us to have a triumphant sense about war,” said Obama.

On Fox News last night, former Bush press secretary Dana Perino fumed about Obama’s “triumphant” comment. “I hope President Obama didn’t mean it the way it came across,” said Perino, who interpreted it as “indicating that President Bush didn’t understand the weight of the decision that is made when you send men and women into war”:

PERINO:I hope President Obama didn’t mean it the way it came across, but when he suggested that President Bush was too triumphant in his rhetoric when talking about war and that President — indicating that President Bush didn’t understand the weight of the decision that is made when you send men and women into war, is demonstrably false.

And take it from someone who knows. I was there. I got to see President Bush visit the wounded warriors. I got to see him visit with families of the fallen and make those decisions that were important. But he also put them in a position when he thought they could win and told them that they could, which is what any president or general before President Bush used the same type of rhetoric when he — when making those decisions.

Watch it:

While President Bush did regularly “visit the wounded warriors,” as Perino says, it is demonstrably true that he too often spoke about war using loose, “triumphant” rhetoric that downplayed the costs. In July 2003, when asked about soldiers dying at the hands of insurgents in Iraq, Bush glibly taunted the attackers, saying “bring ‘em on.” Bush’s “irresponsible and inciteful” comments, as Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) described them, came just two months after he prematurely declared that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended” under a “mission accomplished” banner. In 2008, Perino tried to explain the banner by saying it should have read: “Mission Accomplished For These Sailors Who Are On This Ship On Their Mission.”

The Bush administration sent the men and women of the military to risk life and limb in the Iraq war using claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Despite no such weapons being found, over 4,000 Americans have died in Iraq since Bush declared “mission accomplished.” In March 2004, however, Bush joked about the lack of WMD found in Iraq.

Transcript:

VAN SUSTEREN: That would have been good. You have any problem with the things he said about the president?

PERINO: Sure. I mean, I think — one of the things that was not in the Oprah interview but in the “60 Minutes” interview was the thing that I thought — I hope President Obama didn’t mean it the way it came across, but when he suggested that President Bush was too triumphant in his rhetoric when talking about war and that President — indicating that President Bush didn’t understand the weight of the decision that is made when you send men and women into war, is demonstrably false.

And take it from someone who knows. I was there. I got to see President Bush visit the wounded warriors. I got to see him visit with families of the fallen and make those decisions that were important. But he also put them in a position when he thought they could win and told them that they could, which is what any president or general before President Bush used the same type of rhetoric when he — when making those decisions.

VAN SUSTEREN: And the quote from “60 Minutes” — I have it here — that you’re speaking about is — which President Obama says, “One of the mistakes that was made over the last eight years is for us to have a triumphant sense about war and about kicking” — then he went on to talk about kicking some tail.

PERINO: Like, what president or general did not stir the hearts of their troops before sending them in? I mean, that doesn’t make any sense. That quote was actually in response to a question by Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” suggesting that the speech at West Point was seen as too analytical and not emotional. The next thing that he suggests — Steve Kroft suggests is that the speech was confusing, and President Obama again was extremely defensive.

I don’t understand why the White House would have made a decision to have him do a “60 Minutes” interview a week before it was going to air, and in addition, have the Oprah Winfrey interview, which was supposed to be the lead one of the week. It doesn’t make sense to me.

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