George Bush, in an effort to sell his new book Decision Points, gave his first interview since being leaving office. Last Monday night on NBC the former president sat down with Matt Lauer to discuss the book. In Decision Points, Bush illustrates his presidency by describing his thought process as he made the critical choices that shaped his legacy. After sharing some emotional stories from his past, including his mother having a miscarriage and how he got over drinking, the two got down to politics.
In the almost two years since he’s been out of office, Bush hasn’t changed much. He doesn’t regret any of his choices during the presidency, besides abandoning his principles for TARP, but he does regret a few publicity blunders. He’d take back the mission accomplished banner (to replace it with ‘great mission’?) as well as his Katrina blunders such as the fly over or ‘heck of a job, Brownie’, but not his handling of the broader issues. He did explain that he considered sending in the troops to New Orleans, but was afraid of the politics associated with it.
The two questions that Bush tried to dodge were on waterboarding and Iraq. When Lauer asked if he would’ve gone into Iraq if he knew that there were no WMDs, he responded that he didn’t have that luxury. That’s fair, but saying ‘I’m not going to debate this, Matt” when asked if other countries could waterboard Americans if it was in fact legal wasn’t. His continuous refusal to accept the fact that torture put American lives at risk over seas makes me think that he spent a little too much time watching 24.
The obvious theme of the night was that the job president comes with a lot of critics. Critics, who for the most part, Bush didn’t pay much attention to. There was one who got to him though. He identified the worst moment of his presidency as when Kanye West said that he didn’t care about black people during an NBC telethon for hurricane Katrina. Lauer pointed out that critics may take issue with that. Bush stuck to it. The reason this interview got as much attention as it did may be because Bush has mostly remained silent after returning to private life. After all his talk about his critics, he said that he knew what Obama would be going through and that he wouldn’t be one of his.
It seems as though Bush is enjoying his life more in retirement than when he was in the public eye. I‘m truly glad, because to be honest… I am too.