Crossed the Line

According to President Bush, Pervez Musharraf "has advanced democracy in Pakistan," and not just a long time ago (like when he first seized power in a coup), but even recently. So said our Commander in Chief in an interview with ABC News yesterday. (Transcript here; video here). Here's my favorite part of the interview:

CHARLES GIBSON: Is there a line he cannot cross, that he cannot cross, something that would go too far, where you might say to yourself, 'OK, that's enough?'

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Well, he hasn't crossed the line. As a matter of fact, I don't think that, uh, he will cross any lines. I think he truly is somebody who believes in democracy. And he made a decision, we didn't necessarily agree with his decision, to impose emergency rule, and I, my, hopefully he'll get, get rid of the rule. Today I thought was a pretty good signal that he released thousands of people from jail.

I see, so if you jail judges, lawyers and journalists for opposing your efforts to assume all powers for yourself (uh, make that "your efforts to advance democracy"), then you haven't crossed any lines, so long as you later release some of them. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that Musharraf crossed to the bad side of the line, but then (on Bush's account) crossed back to the acceptable side? So hasn't he crossed the line (at least) twice?

My second favorite part of the interview is watching Bush's face and listening to his tone in response to the question from Gibson whether the Pakistani nukes are secure. Bush says:
I certainly hope so. We feel pretty comfortable at this moment in time. And of course we'll pay very close attention to, to any, country that has got nuclear weapons. And, but yeah, I feel good about it right now.
In these words and even more clearly in the video, it appears that Bush is trying to send his standard signal: We're doing a great job protecting the national security, so don't worry, but also be very very afraid.

Happy Thanksgiving! (I won't post again until Monday, but one or more of my co-bloggers might.)

Posted by Mike Dorf