Heres the transcript. This is my favorite exchange:
The Post: In Iraq, theres been a steady stream of surprises. We werent welcomed as liberators, as Vice President Cheney had talked about. We havent found the weapons of mass destruction as predicted. The postwar process hasnt gone as well as some had hoped. Why hasnt anyone been held accountable, either through firings or demotions, for what some people see as mistakes or misjudgments?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we had an accountability moment, and thats called the 2004 election. And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me, for which Im grateful.
Listen, in times of war, things dont go exactly as planned. Some were saying there was no way that Saddam Hussein would be toppled as quickly as we toppled him. Some were saying there would be mass refugee flows and starvation, which didnt happen. My only point is, is that, on a complicated matter such as removing a dictator from power and trying to help achieve democracy, sometimes the unexpected will happen, both good and bad.
And the point is, there has to be a flexible strategy that will enable our commanders on the ground and our diplomats to be able to adjust strategy to meet the needs on the ground, all aiming at an eventual goal, which is a free and democratic Iraq, not in our image, in their image, according to their customs. See, we havent been -- weve been there -- sovereignty was transferred in June of 2004. So this has been a sovereign nation in its new form for less than a year. Im optimistic about it, and so are a lot of other people who were there in Iraq --optimistic about that, being optimistic about the emergence of a free government.
Im also mindful that it takes a while for democracy to take hold. Witness our own history. We werent -- we certainly were not the perfect democracy and are yet the perfect democracy. Ours is a constitution that said every man -- a system that said every man was equal, but in fact, every man wasnt equal for a long period of time in our history. The Articles of Confederation were a bumpy period of time. And my only point is, is that I am realistic about how quickly a society that has been dominated by a tyrant can become a democracy. And therefore, I am more patient than some, but also mindful that weve got to get the Iraqis up and running as quickly as possible, so they can defeat these terrorists.
The election, the President says, was a referendum of sorts on the war in Iraq. And, for all the accusations about being rigidly ideological in his approach, hes got his eye on the ball--the consent of the governed.
Theres a lot more in this long interview. Read the whole thing.