Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Nov 8th, 2010

Bush Admits Mistakes, Defends Decisions

In memoir, he candidly writes about professional, personal regrets


Bush: Cheney ‘angry’ I didn’t pardon Libby (NBC Today, Nov. 8, 2010) — In an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer, former President George W. Bush recounts Vice President Dick Cheney’s anger over his decision to let a jury’s verdict of perjury stand against disgraced aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby. (04:09)

NBC Today
November 8, 2010

President George W. Bush will join Matt Lauer for a live sit-down interview on TODAY on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Former President George W. Bush admits in his memoir “Decision Points” that his 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech and his demeanor in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were some of the professional and personal mistakes that he made. In his first one-on-one television interview since leaving the White House, the former president sat down with Matt Lauer and opened up about his regrets. …

He also wrote of many errors involving the Iraq campaign and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction there, despite numerous intelligence reports pointing to their existence.

“No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do,” Bush writes. …

Full story

The Personality Profile of George W. Bush

Aubrey Immelman
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
July 1999

Image: President Bush
George W. Bush (Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP — Getty Images)


This report presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Information concerning Gov. Bush was collected from biographies and media reports and synthesized into a personality profile using the second edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-IV.

Personality Profile

George W. Bush’s overall personality configuration, with his primary elevation on Scale 3 (Outgoing), his secondary elevation on Scale 1A (Dominant), his less prominent elevation on Scale 1B (Dauntless), and near-significant elevations on Scale 2 (Ambitious) and Scale 4 (Accommodating) suggests the following composite personality portrait:

  • Characteristically engaging, energetic, and optimistic; driven by a need for excitement and stimulation and willing to take risks; full of ideas, though tending to be a superficial thinker; likely to start many projects but inconsistent in following through, compensating with a natural salesperson’s ability to persuade others to join in getting things done.
  • Assertive, realistic, and competitive; enjoys the power to direct others and to evoke respect, often asserting control under the guise of good-natured fun and teasing; authoritative without being authoritarian, tending to use position power for the greater good; creates rules and expects subordinates to follow them, though within reasonable limits.
  • Disarmingly affable and charming, making a good first impression; possesses a keen ability to read others’ motives and desires, and willing to scheme in calculated fashion to realize personal ambitions.
  • Congenial, cordial, and agreeable; generally benevolent and approval-seeking, preferring to avoid conflict without being conflict averse; anti-introspective and unwilling to acknowledge disturbing emotions, denying personal difficulties or covering inner conflicts with self-distraction.

Leadership Implications

George W. Bush’s major personality-based leadership strengths are the important political skills of charisma and interpersonality — a personable, confident, socially responsive, outgoing tendency that will enable him to connect with critical constituencies, mobilize popular support, and retain a following and his self-confidence in the face of adversity. Outgoing leaders characteristically are confident in their social abilities, skilled in the art of social influence, and have a charming, engaging personal style that tends to make people like them and overlook their gaffes and foibles.

Bush’s major personality-based limitations include the propensity for a superficial grasp of complex issues, a predisposition to be easily bored by routine (with the attendant risk of failing to keep himself adequately informed), an inclination to act impulsively without fully appreciating the implications of his decisions or the long-term consequences of his policy initiatives, and a predilection to favor personal connections, friendship, and loyalty over competence in his staffing decisions and appointments — all of which could render a Bush administration relatively vulnerable to errors of judgment.

Note: This profile was first presented by Aubrey Immelman at the 1999 and 2000 annual meetings of the International Society of Political Psychology. It was subsequently published as “The Political Personality of U.S. President George W. Bush” in the book Political Leadership for the New Century: Personality and Behavior Among American Leaders (pp. 81–103) by Linda O. Valenty and Ofer Feldman (Eds.). Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

Related book chapter

The Political Personality of U.S. President George W. Bush. Book chapter by Aubrey Immelman in Linda O. Valenty & Ofer Feldman (Eds.), Political Leadership for the New Century: Personality and Behavior among American Leaders (pp. 81–103). Westport, CT: Praeger. Abstract and link for full-text (23 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons:

Related research paper

The Political Personalities of 2000 U.S. Presidential Candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore. Paper presented by Aubrey Immelman at the 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Seattle, WA, July 1–4, 2000. Abstract and link for full-text (49 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons:

Related colloquium

Moral Crusader vs. Flyboy: The Political Personalities of Al Gore and George W. Bush. Forum presentation by Aubrey Immelman, November 3, 2000. Forum Lectures, 351. Retrieved from Digital Commons website:

Related interest: Bush’s true lies

FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — November 8, 2009

Iraq-AfPak War Update

Image: People sift through rubble after a suicide bomb blast in Pakistan
Pakistani officials and local residents gather at the site of a car bombing in Badh Ber near Peshawar, Pakistan, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009. (Photo credit: Mohammad Sajjad / AP)

One year ago today, I reported that a suicide bomber had blown himself up in a market in northwest Pakistan killing 12 people, including the mayor, who had turned against the Taliban; and that two U.S. pilots had been killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — November 8, 2008

Iraqis Demand Withdrawal Date

A U.S. soldier secures the scene of a roadside bombing in Baghdad. Iraq wants nearly all U.S. combat troops to be gone by the end of 2011.
A U.S. soldier secures the scene of a roadside bombing in Baghdad.
Iraq wants nearly all U.S. combat troops to be gone by the end of 2011. (Photo credit: Khalid Mohammed /Associated Press)

Two years ago today, on Nov. 8, 2008, I reported that Iraqi officials, who saw President-elect Obama’s views on the timing of a U.S. withdrawal as consonant with their own, appeared to be leveraging his election to pressure the Bush administration to make last-minute concessions in negotiations to reach a status-of-forces agreement with the United States; that Iraqi and U.S. officials were concerned about a surge in “sticky bombs”; and that Afghan president Hamid Karzai urged U.S. president-elect Barack Obama to stop the killing of civilians in coalition operations, which he said undermines popular support for the Afghan government and the international mission.

4 Responses to “George W. Bush Memoir”
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