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Dec 6th, 2008

On a Farewell Tour of Sorts, Bush Reflects on His Record

Image: President Bush
President George W. Bush listens to his introduction before speaking at the Saban Forum 2008 at the Newseum in Washington, Friday, Dec. 5, 2008. (Photo credit: Saul Loeb / AFP — Getty Images)

By Dan Eggen
The Washington Post
December 6, 2008

George W. Bush is not generally prone to introspection. “I really do not feel comfortable in the role of analyzing myself,” he once said.

But with only weeks left in his presidency, the self-analysis has begun. After a year of relentless criticism from both parties, the departing president has embarked on a valedictory tour, touting his record in television interviews and public appearances while admitting, with some hesitation, that things did not always go as planned.

Bush asserts success in combating AIDS in Africa, preventing new terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and snatching a measure of victory in Iraq. And in a speech on the Middle East yesterday, the president sketched out a strikingly optimistic portrait of a region that has embroiled the United States in war and conflict for the past eight years.

“The Middle East in 2008 is a freer, more hopeful and more promising place than it was in 2001,” he said at the Saban Forum in Washington.

Bush has also been notably open in recent weeks about his low popularity, his reliance on religious faith and his keen desire to steal away from the limelight after Jan. 20. He has admitted to a few previously unacknowledged errors, telling one interviewer that he was “unprepared for war” when he entered office and that his “biggest regret” was the failure of intelligence leading up to the Iraq invasion.

Yet even those remarks underscore Bush’s enduring confidence in the path he charted through two wars, a major natural disaster and a global economic meltdown. While conceding faulty intelligence before the Iraq war, he declines to say whether he would have acted differently. While saying he is “sorry” for the economic crisis, he says most of the problems began before he took office.

And Bush shies away from one of the most damaging episodes of his tenure: the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm left thousands stranded in a drowning New Orleans, setting Bush on course to become the least popular U.S. president in modern history. …

For Bush, to be unyielding is a matter of principle. “The thing that’s important for me is to get home and look in that mirror and say, ‘I did not compromise my principles,'” Bush said in an interview with ABC News. “And I didn’t. I made tough calls. And some presidencies have got a lot of tough decisions to make.” …

In yesterday’s speech at the Saban Forum, an annual Middle East conference sponsored by the Brookings Institution, Bush offered a sweeping and optimistic defense of his policy in [the Middle East], often minimizing or ignoring uncomfortable developments.

He said unseating Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was justified and portrayed Iraq as “a powerful example of a moderate, prosperous, free nation.” He asserted that “important progress” had been made in the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and he hailed negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions — talks that he resisted early in his administration.

He also acknowledged, but played down, the setbacks that have bedeviled his administration in the Middle East. “As with any large undertaking, these efforts have not always gone according to plan, and in some areas we have fallen short of our hopes,” Bush said, adding that the war in Iraq “has been longer and more costly than expected.”

Many of Bush’s recent appearances have focused on faith-based programs, international aid efforts and other hallmarks of the “compassionate conservatism” that he embraced when he first ran for the White House in 2000. …

Video: White House

Reality continues to elude Bush (MSNBC, Dec. 5, 2008) — The Nation’s Chris Hayes discusses why the president fails to take responsibility for his mistakes while in office. (05:55)



The Deluder in Chief


December 7, 2008


We long ago gave up hope that President Bush would acknowledge his many mistakes, or show he had learned anything from them. Even then we were unprepared for the epic denial that Mr. Bush displayed in his interview with ABC News’s Charles Gibson the other day, which he presumably considered an important valedictory chat with the American public as well. …

It was skin crawling to hear him tell Mr. Gibson that the thing he will really miss when he leaves office is no longer going to see the families of slain soldiers, because they make him feel better about the war. But Mr. Bush’s comments about his decision to invade Iraq were a “mistakes were made” rewriting of history and a refusal to accept responsibility to rival that of Richard Nixon. …

Despite it all, Mr. Bush said he will “leave the presidency with my head held high.” And, presumably, with his eyes closed to all the disasters he is dumping on the American people and his successor.


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Dec. 5, 2008, as reported by Reuters.

BAGHDAD – A bomb attached to a vehicle killed Wathab Kareem, an inspector for the Labor Ministry, and wounded two civilians in central Baghdad on Thursday, police said.

BAGHDAD – Iraqi security forces arrested a man believed to be a senior member of Ansar al-Sunna, an Islamic militant group, in the Mansour district of western Baghdad on Thursday, said security spokesman Major-General Qassim Moussawi. He said the suspect was recently released from a U.S. detention center in southern Iraq.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb killed a policeman and wounded a civilian when it struck a police patrol on Thursday in northern Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen shot and wounded an off-duty policeman at a restaurant in northern Mosul on Thursday, police said.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb wounded four people, including two army officers, when it struck an army patrol in northern Mosul on Thursday, police said.

3 Responses to “Iraq ‘Longer and More Costly’”
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