Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December 2, 2008

     With his time in office almost over, President Bush is expressing regret. 
     He is sorry about the recession, he told ABC News.  "Obviously I don't like the idea of people losing jobs, or being worried about their 401(k)s.  The American people have got to know that we will safeguard the system."  That's if we can figure out how to safeguard it, of course.  The evidence on that is, at best, mixed.
    But Bush said his biggest regret was what he called the "intelligence failure" that led him, with Congressional support, to invade Iraq in March 2003.  The rationale was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  He didn't.  Would Bush have ordered the invasion anyway if he'd known that?  "You know, that's an interesting question. That's a do-over that I can't do...."   Most of us could, of course.  Most of us would not have invaded.  Many of us old enough to remember would have recalled the bad intelligence that led John Kennedy to the Bay of Pigs invasion.  But it's hard, I suppose, for a civilian president to question the self-styled experts who claim intelligence as something they own.
     Bush also called Barack Obama's election victory a "repudiation of Republicanism" which is doubtful and a vote "because of me" which is surely closer to the truth.
     It's always hard to knows how presidents will be remembered. John Kennedy's was an administration of great glamour, had wins and losses, and could probably most fairly be graded "incomplete."   Lyndon Johnson accomplished great things domestically--the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act--but was badly stained by his failure to end the useless war in Vietnam.  Richard Nixon did good things--detente with the Soviets, talking to China--but the word that first comes to mind is "impeachment."  Jimmy Carter?  Couldn't get the hostages back from Iran, couldn't turn the economy around--"unlucky" might sum him up.
     And George W. Bush?  I don't know, but "one of the worst" is what I think of first. 
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