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Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

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The Bush Legacy Debate Begins

POSTED: 02:55 PM ET, 01/12/2009 by Derek Kravitz

President George W. Bush speaks during the final news conference of his administration today in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo / Gerald Herbert)

With only eight days left in office, George W. Bush is looking back. And so is The Post.

All week, Post Investigations will examine the president's eight years in office, from the Iraq war to Katrina, from intelligence gathering after Sept. 11 to the financial meltdown. Expert opinion from The Post's Bob Woodward and Bart Gellman, along with relevant links to past coverage and commentary, will be included.

In many ways, the debate over Bush's legacy has already begun.

At a press conference today that Bush himself dubbed "the ultimate exit interview," he defended his policies on Iraq, intelligence gathering and domestic affairs as a "good, strong record."

"You know, presidents can try to avoid hard decisions and therefore avoid controversy," he said. "That's just not my nature."

At one point, responding to a question about why he had evoked such passionate criticism in some circles, Bush likened himself to a now-heralded past president -- Abraham Lincoln.

"I've been reading, you know, a lot about Abraham Lincoln during my presidency and there's some pretty harsh discord when it came to the 16th president, just like there's been harsh discord for the 43rd president," he said.

Woodward, who has written four books on the Bush presidency, noted a different comparison that the soon-to-be-ex commander-in-chief might be partial to.

"Ah, Bush of course hopes that (the Iraq war is) going to turn out well and there is an outside chance that it's possible and he'll be Harry Truman," Woodward said during a roundtable discussion on Bush's and Vice President Dick Cheney's legacies. "It's also possible that its not going to, and the preponderance of the evidence is that it may not turn out well."

Bush also made a point of acknowledging some of his professional failings during his eight years in office, namely his speech in 2003 aboard an aircraft carrier less than two months after the United States-led invasion of Iraq.

In that speech, Bush said "the United States and our allies have prevailed." He spoke under a "Mission Accomplished" banner. Insurgent attacks and U.S. troop deaths would later spike, sparking condemnation for the optimistic miscalculation.

"Clearly, putting 'Mission Accomplished' on an aircraft carrier was a mistake," Bush said. "It sent the wrong message."

Woodward noted that Bush had a "freedom agenda," and looked at the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as an "opportunity."

"I think when he stood on the deck of the aircraft carrier with the well-remembered sign, 'Mission Accomplished,' he has that sense," Woodward said. He said the Bush people were thinking: "They've done it, they've really pulled something off that was going to be important."

By Derek Kravitz |  January 12, 2009; 2:55 PM ET The Bush-Cheney Legacy
Previous: Madoff Remains Free, Surreal Scene in Illinois Senate, Obama on Bush Inquiry | Next: Report: Financial Adviser Tried to Fake Own Death


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Bush's administration exposed to full view the imperial shadow side of U.S. democracy.

Posted by: sevenwords67 | January 12, 2009 7:25 PM

ENOUGH already! There are what, 250,000 people living in that dangerous, crime-infested, corrupt hellhole, where most normal people wouldn't CONSIDER living? How much did the American taxpayers spend in the last 5 years on that red-headed stepchild? How much for levees, pumps, the Army Corps of Engineers, evacuations, rescues, shelters, feeding, cleanup, sanitation, looting prevention efforts, police and national guard troops, FEMA trailers, demolition, paying for people's rent, welfare, etc. in the cities they were evacuated to for as long as they were there, etc.

What is the actual cost, per person served, per year, of all this to the taxpayers? I have no figures, but the numbers must be mind-numbing, and for WHAT? Political Correctness? Is somebody afraid of being called a racist (Ok, that WOULD happen!) if they don't keep throwing limitless amounts of money down this rathole? You think you have to agree because it's one of the "Chocolate Cities", because it's probably the only place in the country where some of the residents could own a house (prices ARE low if it ain't a good place to be!)? Are you sheep who meekly submit to all the shearing you can stand every two or three years? Do you think we HAVE to do it? We DON'T!

Posted by: lightnin001 | January 12, 2009 9:25 PM

To truly evaluate the G.W.Bush administration, historians will need access to documents, e-mails and other background information about the Bush administration. It appears that massive amounts of information has been destroyed or declared "executive priviledge info" that will not be available for decades. However, the truth will eventually come out and in time the administration's actions will be evaluated in the context of history and a tempering of passion.

It is also possible that American's may be further divided if President Bush and members of his administration are indited by international tribunals for violations of the Geneva Conventions. How should we as a nation handle this?

Perhaps a first step would be to ask: What would President Lincoln do? I think he might suggest that we seek guidence from our faiths, Jewish, Christian and Islam, through prayer.

Few matters of this import are either black or white. Discussion of these matters might futher divide Americans and those with whom we contend. Yet serious reflection might also help us to further develop our national conscience and shape our foreign policies to remediate the mistakes made by the United States and those who have resorted to violence to settle matters of dispute.

Therefore, the Bush legacy contains an inherent paradox, the possibilities for severe centure and condemnation or the beginning of a dialogue that will lead to better understanding and constructive resolution of our differences.

Let us turn to our faiths and our Gods and seek peace on earth for all people. This is my earnest prayer.

Posted by: leehwenke | January 13, 2009 12:26 AM

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