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Bush Gets Out the Shovel

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By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, December 2, 2008; 1:18 PM

President Bush's interview with ABC News's Charlie Gibson is being heralded by some media outlets as reflective, apologetic and self-critical, even "stunningly candid" -- but it was none of those things.

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Rather, in the first of several planned "exit interviews," Bush continues to refuse to take responsibility for a single thing that went wrong on his watch.

The president who sent troops into a disastrous war under false pretenses, led the economy into its biggest crash since the Great Depression, let New Orleans drown, embraced torture and turned America into a pariah nation seems to believe that if anyone is to blame, it's not him. He just happened to be in charge during a series of unfortunate events.

Bush evidently thinks he can win over the verdict of history with a smirk and a shrug, and by maintaining that he "stuck to his principles."

But there's little reason to think history will be kind to him. Now down to his last 50 days in the White House, he is plagued by the lowest presidential approval ratings in the history of modern polling. The country has judged him and found him wanting. So either we're all fools or he is.

Here is the transcript and some video of the interview.

Hopefully, Bush's next interviewers won't let him get away with this stuff.

Quoting Bush Out of Context

The biggest headlines around the nation and the world were generated by Bush's comment that he was "unprepared for war" -- implying that he realizes he should have been better prepared and regrets some of his actions.

But if you examine the full exchange, you see that's not what Bush was saying.

Gibson: "What were you most unprepared for?"

Bush: "Well, I think I was unprepared for war. In other words, I didn't campaign and say, 'Please vote for me, I'll be able to handle an attack.' In other words, I didn't anticipate war. Presidents -- one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen."

That's not an admission of anything. If anything, it's a suggestion that his situation was inherent in the job.


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