President Bush's interview with Charlie Gibson aired last night, and Bush made it clear that he intends to leave office with his head held high. Reflecting on the highs and lows of his presidency, Bush concluded that it has been a "joyous" experience. Here are some of the excerpts:
- On the Iraq war intelligence: "The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn’t just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that’s not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess."
- On what he was unprepared for: "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.
- On how he judges his legacy: "The thing that's important for me is to get home and look in that mirror and say, I did not compromise my principles. And I didn't. I made tough calls. And some presidencies have got a lot of tough decisions to make."
- On Obama's election: "I think it was a repudiation of Republicans. And I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me. I think most people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for the next four years explaining policy."
Considering that many in the media and numerous Democrats supported the war, do you think history will forget that Bush overlooked good intelligence and reports from the inspectors that concluded Iraq had no WMDs?