Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Emotional Elder Bush Attacks Son's Critics

Reuters reports:

An emotional former President George H.W. Bush Tuesday defended his son's Iraq war and lashed out at White House critics.

It is "deeply offensive and contemptible" to hear "elites and intellectuals on the campaign trail" dismiss progress in Iraq since last year's overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the elder Bush said in a speech to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association annual convention.

"There is something ignorant in the way they dismiss the overthrow of a brutal dictator and the sowing of the seeds of basic human freedom in that troubled part of the world," he said.

The former president appeared to fight back tears as he complained about media coverage of the younger Bush that he called "something short of fair and balanced."

"It hurts an awful lot more when it's your son that is being criticized than when they used to get all over my case," said Bush, who has often complained about media coverage of both Bush presidencies.

Iraq has been torn by violence and instability since a U.S.-led invasion last year toppled Saddam in the hunt for his alleged weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons have been found but the Bush administration says progress toward a stable democracy is being made.

The former president, who waged the first Gulf War against Saddam in 1991, described progress in Iraq as "a miracle."

"Iraq is moving forward in hope and not sliding back into despair and terrorism," he said.

Some critics of the war say the White House focused resources on Iraq instead of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, whom Washington blames for the Sept. 11 attacks.