Newspaper editorials offered few words of comfort to President Bush following his speech Sunday night, which called for $87 billion in funding in just the first year of United States occupation of Iraq and argued for Iraq as “the central front” in the war on terrorism.
“The president signaled his willingness to empty the federal treasury to pay for precisely the sort of foreign entanglements against which George Washington and Thomas Jefferson warned in their farewell addresses,” read the Capital Times in Madison, Wis. “The United States already has a military budget that costs this country roughly $400 billion annually, but Bush wants U.S. taxpayers to spend more on his war games.”
“What the president did not mention in his speech is that the $87 billion more he seeks to fund his occupations abroad could pay for 1.4 million new teachers at home. It could help 11 million low-income families meet housing needs. It could provide health care coverage for 30 million children,” the editorial said.
The New York Times said, “While Mr. Bush finally set a price tag on the upcoming cost of the Iraq effort, he still not done enough to level with the American people.”
“He has yet to really tell Americans that they will have to make sacrifices to pay the bill,” read the editorial.
“President Bush’s speech Sunday night amounted to a tacit admission of the mistakes that have riddled the occupation of Iraq,” said the Los Angeles Times. “But if Bush is to justify the breathtaking $87-billion price tag he proposed for rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan, he needs to provide Congress with more than vague assurances about bringing democracy to the Middle East.”
The editorial said the Bush administration “wildly underestimated the costs and dangers of imposing its headstrong will in Iraq.”
The Detroit Free Press said: “The president did not present an ‘exit strategy’ for either battleground. He just said we are going to win, whatever it takes—in dollars, at least another $87 billion worth, and, implicitly, in American lives.”
USAToday called the president’s address “sober and realistic.” The editorial said Bush’s more pragmatic approach “came only after prodding from Democratic presidential candidates.”
“The United States now must complete a long and difficult responsibility,” concluded the Austin American-Statesman.
While generally supporting Bush, the Texas paper noted that the president “avoided all the most difficult questions stemming from his actions regarding Iraq: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Where is Saddam Hussein? Or Osama bin Laden? Why do we not have enough troops there to enforce law and order? When can the troops come home?”
One of the most supportive editorials appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Although the editorial admitted that the Bush administration “didn’t adequately anticipate the challenge” of rebuilding Iraq, it expressed support for Bush’s vision, albeit a costly and difficult one.
The Washington Post welcomed Bush’s message. “Mr. Bush is right to say that the United States must stay the course in both countries, and he is right to seek substantial resources for the task.”
In Phoenix, the Arizona Republic said: “President Bush needed to make a statement of what progress has been made. It is good that he did.”