Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Republicans Mission Accomplished?. Legacy or Minority Party?
A reflective President Bush acknowledged a number of blunders that have marred his White House years, but he told a small group of Texas reporters that he has "a great sense of accomplishment and I am going home with my head held high."
Bush mused fondly about his future life in Dallas, saying he looked forward to walking down supermarket aisles, sitting in a rocking chair with old friends and staying out of the public spotlight.
"I am looking forward to going back to Texas," the former Texas governor said. "I am going home to a place where I've got a lot of friends - people who will be my friends regardless of what happened in politics."
In a 51-minute interview in the Oval Office, the president discussed his eight years in office and admitted to missteps such as failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform, allowing the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner to be unveiled and using incendiary language in the run-up to war.
But Bush stoutly defended his decision to wage wars in Iraq and Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that shaped his presidency. And he said his move to bail out foundering financial institutions was necessary to avoid an economic collapse worse than the Great Depression.
When Bush leaves office in a couple of days, he plans to divide his time between his Crawford, Texas, ranch and a spacious home in the exclusive Preston Hollow neighborhood in Dallas.
"Laura bought a house," he joked. "I haven't seen it yet. They say it's a beauty."
The president said he planned to write a memoir about his tumultuous presidency that will "put people in my place," as well as "give some speeches" and "spend some time on the (Southern Methodist University) campus," where his presidential library and freedom institute will be built. He said he told President-elect Barack Obama earlier this week that he'd be "more than willing" to listen if the new commander in chief had "some tasks he may want me to take on."
Before leaving office, the president said he is likely to deliver a farewell address to the nation that would include thanks, praise and discussion of lessons he has learned.
In the interview, Bush pointed to accomplishments including a series of tax cuts, two energy bills, the No Child Left Behind education legislation, expansion of Medicare to include a senior citizen prescription drug benefit and free-trade pacts.
He said he is "pleased with the progress we have made in dismantling al Qaeda." But, he acknowledged, "it's been hard to keep the American people convinced there's still a threat."
Among his political setbacks, Bush particularly regrets the failure of immigration legislation, which was killed by the Senate in 2007.
"I'm very disappointed it didn't pass," he said. "I'm very worried about the message that said Republicans are anti-immigrant."
Bush also admitted to several war-related missteps. The infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner on an aircraft carrier after U.S. troops toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was a mistake, he said, because "it conveyed a sense of finality in the Iraqi theater." And his rhetoric, he conceded, "at times has been a little rough and over the top."
Bush says he will miss the creature comforts of the presidency - the luxury of Air Force One, the convenience of having a helicopter outside your back door and the "fantastic" service at the White House.
"I don't know what it's going to be like to wake up on the morning of the 21st of January," he acknowledged.
President Bush called for a ‘compassionate’ Republican Party and warned against the GOP becoming ‘anti-immigrant’ in one of his last interviews as president, defending his vision of the party, which has become unpopular among some Republicans And I wonder How Mr. George Bush wake up every morning thinking and doesn't know how Millions of People lost their houses, their employment, their value of their houses, their dreams, their Hope, their American faith and Values and not realized to do anything about it. Ashamed Mr. Bush and Hypocrisy is not a family value.