I watched the Presidental news conference last night. Actually, since I was working away on the laptop for most of it, it’s probably more accurate to say I listened to the news conference — which was just as well, given the way Bush’s tie was pulsating.

Overall, I thought it was a poor performance, but there was one bit, towards the end of his opening statement that was okay — a stump speech-ish riff on bring freedom to the Iraqi people. Not great, by any means, but if you closed your eyes and forgot about most of the last couple of years, it was decent.

There was one thing he is absolutely right about: if we don’t get Iraq right, the whole Middle East is going to be worse than it was before, and the long-term safety of America is seriously imperiled. I don’t think you’ll find a lot of disagreement with that position in any segment of the political spectrum.

That said, the fact that Bush and his administration are aware of this problem isn’t particularly comforting, because they don’t seem to have any sort of plan about how to resolve the mess that Iraq has recently devolved into. They’re still planning on turning over authority to somebody in about 2.5 months, but they don’t have any idea of who might be the lucky recipient of that authority. This does not bode well, given the whole “it’s critical that we get this right” aspect of the problem.

There were a cavalcade of other cringe-worthy moments — the “I can’t think of any mistakes I’ve made” moment, the “you’re going off script!” moment, the “I really can’t explain why I have to appear with Cheney before the 9.11 Commission” moment, and the crowning cringe of the eveving: the ironically incoherent response to Don Ganyea’s “do you think you have trouble communicating?” question — but really the most depressing, dis-heartening moment of the night was the one bit that the President got correct: not screwing up Iraq is vital.

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