Kevin Wick/Longview Photography
An audience member votes on the proposition "Bush 43 Is the Worst President of the Past 50 Years."
An audience member votes on the proposition "Bush 43 Is the Worst President of the Past 50 Years." Kevin Wick/Longview Photography
When a group of pundits gathered for a recent Oxford-style debate, the proposition alone was provocative: "Bush 43 Is the Worst President of the Past 50 Years." But when you consider that one of the panelists defending President Bush's legacy was his longtime adviser Karl Rove, the night became even more interesting.
For instance, Rove said that President Bush probably would not have gone to war in Iraq if he had known the truth about Saddam Hussein's military capacity. "Absent weapons of mass destruction," Rove said, "I don't think there would have been an invasion."
And when Rove was asked why Osama bin Laden remains at large, Rove replied, "Because he is hiding in a deep, dark cave in a very dark corner of, in all likelihood, Pakistan. And to suggest that not every effort has been made to get him is inaccurate. Every effort has been made to get him, to get at his communications, to get at his allies, to get at his subordinates, to get at his inner circle."
Rove added, "A lot of them are dead and we aren't hearing much from him."
The event — which was part of the ongoing Intelligence Squared U.S. series that pits experts on either side of an issue against each other in debates — was held at Symphony Space in New York City and sponsored by the Rosenkranz Foundation. The debate series is modeled after a program begun in London in 2002.
Before and after each debate, the audience is asked to vote on the motion. At the start of the evening, 65 percent of the audience was in favor of the proposition that George W. Bush is the worst American president of the past 50 years; 17 percent were against the motion; and 18 percent were undecided. By the end of the debate, 68 percent were for the motion; 27 percent were against it; and 5 percent were still undecided.
Tuesday's debate was moderated by John Donvan, a correspondent for ABC News. Here are some highlights: