Today — the same day that a study was released claiming that 655,000 Iraqi deaths (fully 2.5% of the pre-war Iraqi population) — have occurred as a result of our war in Iraq, President Bush said:
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN: Thank you, Mr. President. Back on Iraq, a group of American and Iraqi health officials today released a report saying that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the Iraq war. That figure is 20 times the figure that you cited in December at 30,000. Do you care to amend or update your figure and do you consider this a credible report?
PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I don’t consider it a credible report, neither does General Casey and neither do Iraqi officials. I do know that a lot of innocent people have died and it troubles me and grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am, you know, amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they’re willing to — you know, that there’s a level of violence that they tolerate.
I wonder, what would Iraqi intolerance of this horrific violence look like? Would we ever hear about it? What option does the ordinary Iraqi civilian have? How could they express this intolerance?
I hope Bush's response to the reporter's question is just more of his typical verbal miscommunication. The alternative, that he is spinning massive amounts of violence on Iraqi civilians as something positive — perhaps evidence of everyday Iraqis' hunger for democracy, is a hucksterish strategy simply too cynical for me to stomach.