George W. Bush's interview with Charlie Gibson was an incredible bit of performance, in which the president asserted that his biggest "regret" was "the intelligence failure in Iraq." As Andrew Sullivan points out, Bush's "admission" that lays the failure at the feet of everyone but his own administration. But the key to the interview is this excerpt:
I don't spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don't worry about long-term history, either, since I'm not going to be around to read it -- (laughter) -- but, look, in this job you just do what you can.
As Greg Sargent points out, Bush is attempting no less a feat than rewriting the history of the Iraq war. The Bush Administration deliberately ignored intelligence that contradicted their claims about Iraq, isolated opponents of the war within the Administration, and placed dubious intelligence at the center of their argument, namely Bush's "uranium from Africa," Condoleeza Rice's "mushroom cloud,"and Cheney's lies about Saddam's links to Al Qaeda. The Bush Administration tried to make Americans think they were in imminent danger of attack from weapons of mass destruction from terrorists tied to those who attacked us on 9/11, not because we were but because they knew that was the most convincing case they could make, and because they thought it would be "better for American interests" in the long run to lie to the American people.
A central tenet of Bush's narrative is that he just "goes with his gut" and doesn't think about the consequences. This manliest of flaws, once sold to Americans by our pundit class as an asset, is nonetheless a fabrication. Of course, the press sold us Bush, they sold us the war, so it's not surprising that they would try to sell us Bush's Legacy. After all, "it was the intelligence" is a plausible an excuse for the media's failure as Bush's. If it was the intelligence, the press weren't deliberately manipulated by the White House, and so there's less to be ashamed of. There's room in this getaway car.
But when Bush says "I don't worry about history" he is blatantly lying, not speaking with "candor" as The Washington Post reported. We know this because we know Bush's BFF turd-blossom has one last fresh biscuit he wants to bend on the White House porch, a revision of recent history. As Steven Hayes of The Weekly Standard revealed on CNN yesterday, Bush's people are actively engaged in trying to rescue his reputation:
[T]here's an ongoing Bush legacy project that's been meeting in the White House, really, with senior advisers, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes has been involved, current senior Bush administration advisers and they are looking at how to sort of roll out the President's legacy.
Bush doesn't care about history, he's just a cowboy who goes with his gut, which is why he's meeting with his flacks to make sure history looks at him kindly. Like all activities undertaken by this Administration, this "Legacy Project" is a transparent disaster, with all the thoughtful preparation of Bush's War. The case being made by Rove and others, that the Administration reacted competently to the intelligence they had, is as transparently false as the original case for invasion. Still, as Sargent noted, you see a number of mainstream news organizations taking Bush's story at face value. Again.
-- A. Serwer
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