"But I do know that there are a lot of good things that are happening (in Iraq) that aren't covered. And I think the drumbeat in the country (U.S.) from the media, from the only way people know what's happening unless they happen to have a loved one deployed there, is discouraging and you know -- I know that the facts are not as discouraging." -- First Lady Laura Bush
Blogs and Web sites are buzzing with pro and con comments regarding First Lady Laura Bush's claim in an NBC interview broadcast Thursday that the reality on the ground in Iraq is "less discouraging" than reported by the western news media.
Here's the relevant transcript excerpt from the interview with NBC's Nora O'Donnell:
O'DONNELL: I know you read the newspapers. You know some of the discussion out there is that the president is going to dismiss the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and not take the fruit salad, as James Baker has called it, and pick and choose.
BUSH: Well, I don't know what that is but I'm sure that he will pick and choose because that -- it's important for him to do that, to pick the ones that are most effective, that the generals think are most effective, and he'll do that.
O'DONNELL: Let me ask you then, finally, just about public opinion when it comes to the Iraq war. NBC News -- we have a new poll out we sponsor with The Wall Street Journal, and the numbers showed two out of 10 Americans now approve of the president's handling on Iraq; seven out of 10 -- less confident that the war will be successful.
BUSH: Well, I, you know, I understand why those polls are like that, because of the coverage that we see every single day in Iraq, and it is not encouraging coverage, for instance -- for sure. There's no doubt about it. But I do know that there are a lot of good things that are happening that aren't covered. And I think the drumbeat in the country from the media, from the only way people know what's happening unless they happen to have a loved one deployed there, is discouraging and you know -- I know that the facts are not as discouraging.
O'DONNELL: But there are a lot of deaths every day.
BUSH: Absolutely, there are, and people do know that and see that, but there are also good things going on that people don't have the chance to see.
O'DONNELL: What are some of those good things that people should know about?
BUSH: Schools that are being built; parts of the country that are peaceful; and people are trying to rebuild their lives in a large part of Iraq. And we hear that, we hear that from friends, we hear that from Iraqis, we hear it from our troops who are there, and -- so, I'd like to see the media get a little bit more balanced view of it.
O'DONNELL: And we do know that our men and women over there do want support over there and we do --
BUSH: Sure, absolutely. And I know the American people support our troops, and that's what I hope our troops also see when they see the coverage of it, the way the American people support them. And I know they'll see it over the holidays, because many, many Americans will be reaching out to our deployed troops in a lot of different ways: by sending Christmas presents, by sending Christmas cards, by letting our troops know that we are with them. And I hope our troops get that message over the holidays.