I’ve just read a piece in The Times about the interview that George Bush granted in the course of his 7-day trip to Europe.
As you know it has been a struggle for me to find good things to say about Mr. Bush –you may recall that I wrestled with this specific problem in a fairly recent blog, and came up with some words of appreciation for his involvement in Africa’s problems.
It was not my instinct to do this, but I was persuaded by some African voices who in their dire situation did find it easier to express appreciation.
Let me reproduce here some of Mr. Bush’s “Times” comments:
“President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.
In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”
Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”. He said that he found it very painful “to put youngsters in harm’s way”. He added: “I try to meet with as many of the families as I can. And I have an obligation to comfort and console as best as I possibly can. I also have an obligation to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.”
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There are many things to be said about these remarks. I will confine myself to one observation:
DO NOT EXPECT any change from this man.
DO NOT EXPECT any admission of error from him.
DO NOT EXPECT an apology from this man about the misbegotten war in Iraq, or about anything else.
Do NOT EXPECT that he will grow up, or mature, into a full human being anytime soon –if ever.
Why do I say this? Just look at the words the man used. (For those of you familiar with the phrase, Mr. Bush is stuck at the “RONAN-BAD-PUPPET” phase of maturation. For those of you who are not, try searching for “Ronan” if you are interested. I think you might be.)
Mr. Bush may be stuck, but he has –as you will have noticed– been refining and perfecting his armory of “bad puppet” ripostes. He has been perfecting the language, tweaking the structure.
What is his overall take on his Presidency?
He makes it very clear: HE HAS BEEN MISUNDERSTOOD! ( “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.” )
The Times goes on to write “…he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood.”
Is there anything there that suggests a taking of responsibility? Shamefully, not a whit!
Instead, he “cares” about all of us who are bitterly divided!
He is “troubled” about how his country has been misunderstood!
He is saying:
IT’S NOT ME. IT’S YOU. And –by the way– I’m better than you because I care. I am troubled…
(This is the man who was “puzzled” by Scott McLellan for the book that Scott wrote about a cabinet of yesmen, a culture of self-deception, stalwart in its denial of blood on its hands.)
Many people –it transpired from the primaries– seem not to like post-president Bill Clinton, even though his sins and flaws are in my view really miniscule next to George Bush’s.
But now –GET READY for post-president Bush!
He is going to be on the scene for many years. They will be years of self-justification and denial and empty words.
They will be painful years of “unimportance” dressed up as “consequential”.
The overriding Bush legacy –it must be said– is one of lying about going to war in Iraq, followed by criminal ineptitude in the conduct of the war, at the distressing cost of too many American and Iraqi lives –dead or maimed– and a treasury depleted of the people’s money.
The man who ran away from Vietnam, now has another war of his own making to run away from.
What really troubles me –and I feel should concern all of us– is this:
I don’t know how we are going to forgive you.
I just know that we have to.
Please, Mr. Bush: help us!