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Bush Not Interested In His Report Card
As if there were any doubt, a new book titled "Dead Certain" asserts that President Bush is deeply convinced that he did the right thing by invading Iraq.The book, by Robert Draper, national correspondent for GQ magazine, is important, as the president -- who does not like to "navel gaze" -- uses his interviews with the author to explain himself and some of the public perceptions of his presidency.
Most of them seem right on.
Draper said Bush is revered by his staffers, who are pained that not everyone shares their admiration for their boss.
Yet Draper writes that some of Bush's qualities could also be viewed "less glowingly: the quickness as brusque impatience, the plain speech as intellectual laziness, the strategic vision as disrespect for the process, the boldness as recklessness, the strength as unreflective certainty."
Woven in the book is the fact that Bush is not afraid to say he has "cried without shame" after meeting with families who have suffered losses in the war. But does he cry also for the Iraqis whose thousands of dead are not officially counted by the Pentagon?
Draper said Bush "enjoyed a reputation for shooting from the gut." But Draper added: "Yet when the moment called for it, Bush could be deliberative."
"Most of all, Bush evinced an almost petulant heedlessness to the outside world," Draper wrote.
Sad to say, that is the image the president consistently projected in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He heard what he stubbornly wanted to hear or what the sycophantic war-mongering neoconservatives wanted him to hear.
Now those same neocons are conveniently blasting him for a botched job and for crippling their high hopes of domination of the Middle East.
It's clear that nothing was going to deter Bush from deposing Saddam Hussein to bring about a "regime change" in Iraq. He was comfortable selling the American people a bill of goods, but Congress should have known better.
Bush maintained all along that Iraq was a threat to the security of the United States and that is why he opted for war. His credibility took a big hit on that falsehood.
Now comes a surprising note from Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, who in the past had paid obsequious homage to Bush, often praising his tax cuts.
In his memoir, titled "The Age of Turbulence," Greenspan harshly derides Bush for abandoning "fiscal restraint."
Greenspan also wrote: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The war is largely about oil."
In the past, Bush has denied that Iraq's vast oil supplies -- the second-largest known reserves in the world -- motivated his unprovoked attack and occupation of Iraq.
This is, one hopes, only the beginning of "tell all" books, as more and more members of the Bush team leave their jobs in this notoriously secretive administration.
Those who intimately witnessed some of the administration's dangerous foreign policy missteps -- but who remained mute when they might have spoken up -- now have only themselves to blame.
Chief among those is Colin Powell, whose speech before the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, is considered a key milestone in the administration's drive to war.
So far, there have been too few profiles in courage in Washington when it counted.
Bush already has made it clear he plans to leave the Iraqi debacle to his successor.
In speaking to Draper about his presidency, Bush said:
"I don't view this as a burden, being the president. I view it as a great opportunity. I truly believe we're in the process of shaping history for the good. I know I firmly believe that decisions I have made were necessary to secure the country. Things couldn't have been done differently -- I'm confident of that."
"I made the decisions to lead," he added and said he understood they could make him unpopular or enable critics to accuse him of "unilateral arrogance."
Draper's book begins with a quote from Bush: "You can't possibly figure out the history of the Bush presidency until I'm dead."
However, most Americans prefer to deliver their judgment now. Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: email@example.com.
© 2007 The Seattle Post-Intelligencer