Politics with Ron Elving: Bush Push on Iraq
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
In Washington today, President Bush will deliver the first of several planned speeches, urging patients with a mission in Iraq. Right now, sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims is the main source of conflict there. Another weekend of violence has kept the situation in Baghdad tense.
We're joined by NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Ron, welcome back to the show. And what is Mr. Bush planning to say today?
RON ELVING reporting:
Alex, we will hear, again, the basic case that the president has made many times before, for our invasion of Iraq, for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Now, of course, what we're all waiting to hear, and what we all are expecting to hear, is some sort of address, by the president, to these new circumstances in the two weeks since the destruction of the Shiite temple in Samarra.
The sectarian violence has really eclipsed everything else in the area around Baghdad, and in the larger country's fighting as well. And, as a result, this is really what people expect to hear. Although, we also expect the president to say something more about new ways of dealing with the IEDs, the roadside bombs, the improvised explosive devices that are taking some many lives over there. And then, finally, I think the president is going to make a very direct appeal for people to remain patient and to stay the course.
CHADWICK: All right, good. The president's going to do as many as four of these speeches on Iraq in the next few weeks. What's, what about the timing of this?
ELVING: The end of the March month brings the third anniversary, of course, of the invasion of Iraq. And that's focusing people's attention on how we got there, and why we're still there three years later. But also, it's the struggle to get the National Unity Government up and running there. That's the government that was elected back in December. In the elections that we spent a lot of time encouraging, and also that the United States touted as a great solution to the problem there. That government has not really formed yet. The parliament has not convened, and they're hoping to do that officially starting this Thursday.
CHADWICK: Okay. The White House is suggesting that the second speech in this series, that's a week from today, is going to profile a single community somewhere in Iraq where the post-Saddam era is going well.
ELVING: That's right. And they're suggesting that reporters go visit that place in advance, sort of to get an advance look at just how well things are going. We've not yet been given the name, but we are expecting that a lot of news reporters will go there, to see what the president is going to be touting a week from now.
CHADWICK: But perhaps it's a somewhat telling fact that they can't name this community yet, or are not willing to. Anyway, the speeches come at a time when the administration has been embattled in Congress, both over the Dubai Ports World deal, and other aspects of the war on terrorism. One senator is even talking about a motion to censure the president. What about that story?
ELVING: Something of a symbolic act, of course. But Russ Feingold, a Democratic of Wisconsin, possible presidential candidate in 2008--this is the individual who was the only one to vote against the original Patriot Act back in 2001. He believes the president has broken the law with the eavesdropping program organized out of the National Security Agency, and that the president should be censured for that. Now, no president has been censured by the Congress since Andrew Jackson, 1834. And I don't think it's going to happen today. But the senator does want to make his point.
CHADWICK: If the president is censured, what is, what does that amount too?
ELVING: It doesn't necessarily amount to a great deal. But it is the first act that the Congress can take along a road towards more disciplinary action, such as impeachment.
CHADWICK: Ron Elving, NPR's senior Washington editor.
Ron, thank you.
ELVING: Thank you, Alex.