George W. Bush, with approval ratings in the low 30s, compared himself with Harry S. Truman in a speech on Saturday to West Point graduates.
Just two days earlier, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair held a rare joint news conference at the White House to point to victories in Iraq, admitting (according to headlines and news reports all across the U.S.) to "regrets and misinterpretation by others in a war that has grown far bloodier and more protracted than either had expected":
Q: Mr. President, you spoke about missteps and mistakes in Iraq. Could I ask both of you which missteps and mistakes of your own you most regret?
BUSH: Sounds like kind of a familiar refrain here.
Saying, bring it on; kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know. Wanted, dead or alive; that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted. And so I learned from that.
This is not an apology.
Bush's regret is how others "misinterpretted" his words. Their bad, not his. How many ways can "And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive'" be interpretted? Bush thinks that it's his language that has been the failure of his Presidency, and not his decisions and policies. If he wasn't so crass, if he could speak pretty ("like my good friend Tony here"), we would all love him and his war and what he's doing to the country and the world.
Transcript and Video of the Bush-Blair press conference. [50:04]
BUSH: And, you know, I think the biggest mistake that's happened so far, at least from our country's involvement in Iraq, is Abu Ghraib. We've been paying for that for a long period of time.
And it's _ unlike Iraq, however, under Saddam, the people who committed those acts were brought to justice. They have been given a fair trial and tried and convicted.
Not hardly. Extreme renditions, CIA secret prisons, torture, murder, illegal wiretapping of Americans, it all continues under this President. His "mistake" was in it getting discovered.
In his speech to West Point cadets, Bush's:
....parallels with Truman underscored White House efforts to minimize the public opinion effect of day-to-day setbacks and couch the effort in broad historic terms that might help soothe discontent as Republicans seek to retain power despite an already bruising campaign year.
Many surveys show that the Iraq War, along with high gasoline prices and ethics scandals, could lead to widespread GOP losses in Congress, potentially strangling any hope for Bush to enact his agenda during his last two years in office.
The president listed what he said were similarities between the Truman-era birth of the Cold War and his own decisions to invade Iraq."
Neither one of them, neither Bush nor Blair, has taken responsibility for the bad decisions that are tearing the world apart and turning democracy on its ear. Bush and Blair remain on the same course, refusing to alter their policies.
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