George W. Bush on Iraq: ‘I’m comfortable with what I did’

Former president George W. Bush, in a rare interview published Sunday in the Dallas Morning News, defended his economic record against recent presidents and says he remains "comfortable" with his decision to go to war in Iraq.

"I’m comfortable with what I did,” he said. “I’m comfortable with who I am.”

Bush added: "It’s easy to forget what life was like when the decision was made."

Bush noted that his predecessor, Bill Clinton, also had a policy that favored regime change in Iraq, and that the war had bipartisan support at the time. Democrats have accused the Bush administration of misleading them and the American public in the run-up to the war.

In the interview, Bush also compared himself to other recent presidents when it comes to the economy, noting that that his ratio of debt to overall size of the economy, "which is the only accurate measure across the administrations, was close to Ronald Reagan’s and less than 41 and 42” -- referring to his father, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton.

The paper notes that the younger Bush did not compare his record to that of President Obama, who has often blamed the Bush administration for the economic collapse that happened in the final months of Bush's tenure and the slow growth that continues to this day.

“My only point,” Bush said, “is that when there’s an objective analysis of our fiscal record, people will say, ‘Well, that’s different than I thought.’”

Bush gave the interview as his presidential library is set to open in Dallas next week. He said he continues to have little appetite for the political spotlight, but added that he would help his brother, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, if he runs for president, and will assist Jeb's son, George P. Bush, as he runs for Texas land commissioner next year.

Bush also joked about his new hobby -- painting.

“People are surprised,” he said. “Of course, some people are surprised I can even read.”

Asked why he's taken up the hobby, Bush again took a shot at this critics.

“I don’t know,” he said. “You’ll have to call all the people who’ve written these books about me, who claim they know me, the psycho-babblers.”

Bush became a grandfather on Sunday when his daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, gave birth to a baby girl. 

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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