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A Man of Many Beliefs Gives a News Conference With Few Answers

President Bush answered in non-answers or in generalities, as in
President Bush answered in non-answers or in generalities, as in "I believe Iran is an unbelievably vital nation." (By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images)

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By Dana Milbank
Thursday, February 15, 2007

President Bush must have heard that National Public Radio was reviving the 1950s program "This I Believe," because his news conference yesterday sounded like an audition.

On Iran: "I believe Iran is an unbelievably vital nation."

On his Iraq plan: "I believe that success in Baghdad will have success in helping us secure the homeland."

On his Middle East policy: "I believe it's going to yield the peace that we all want."

On the North Korea agreement: "I believe it's an important step in the right direction."

On tensions with Russia: "I firmly believe NATO is a stabilizing influence for the good."

On immigration: "I strongly believe that we need to enforce our borders."

Bush has always supported a faith-based initiative, but his recitation of beliefs in the East Room yesterday -- he listed no fewer than 18 principles he holds to be true -- sounded less like a question-and-answer session than a reading of the Nicene Creed. The only thing the president did not believe in was answering the questions he was asked.

When ABC News's Martha Raddatz asked whether he shares the intelligence community's view that Iraq is in a civil war, the Great Believer grew suddenly agnostic. "We've got people on the ground who don't believe it's a civil war," he dodged.

"Do you believe it's a civil war, sir?" Raddatz pressed.

"It's hard for me, you know, living in this beautiful White House, to give you a firsthand assessment," he punted.

The Post's Peter Baker asked about three members of Bush's administration who leaked the identity of a CIA officer; Bush had promised to fire anybody who did.


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