Shooting the last fish in the barrel: Bush’s “biggest regret”

George W. Bush’s public statements have been absurd for so long, that it’s almost poor sport to continue to skewer them. Nevertheless, because I haven’t done so on BTC News in quite a while, and because this may be my last opportunity, I can’t resist one last shot. For auld lang syne, as it were.

When Bush told ABC’s Charlie Gibson last month that the “biggest regret” of his presidency was “the intelligence failure in Iraq,” and that he wished the intelligence “had been different,” he left a lot of people scratching their heads. Why would a guy who twisted, ignored, and fabricated intelligence in order to justify his invasion regret it, or at least claim to?

If he had paid attention to the correct intelligence, such as Joe Wilson’s report from Niger, the invasion would not have been politically possible. So did he mean that he regrets the invasion? That doesn’t appear to be the case, since he’s never wavered from asserting that in spite of the faulty intelligence, removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision. And when Gibson went on to ask whether he would have invaded anyway, knowing that there were no WMDs, Bush replied, “That is a do-over that I can’t do.”

So how (and why) would he have liked the intelligence to be different? He can’t mean that he wishes Saddam had actually had weapons of mass destruction—in which case the invasion would have been justified by the mass slaughter of our troops as they headed toward Baghdad—or can he? That seemed to be the implication when he said a little later in the interview that one of his greatest disappointments was “no weapons of mass destruction…in Iraq.”

I wanted to ask the White House about this in December, but back then Dana Perino wasn’t talking to me. When I went back this Wednesday, however, she did. Here’s our exchange:

ME: The President has said that the biggest regret of his presidency was the Iraq intelligence failure, and that he wishes the intelligence had been different. But he’s also said that even with the faulty intelligence, his decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. If the intelligence had been different, though, isn’t it true that he would not have been able to make that decision? So why does he consider the faulty intelligence his biggest regret?

MS. PERINO: As the President has said before, you don’t get do-overs in the presidency. You act with the information that you have, and he thinks it was the right thing to do.

She ended the briefing at that point, so I wasn’t able to point out that she hadn’t answered my question.

But in Wednesday’s Doonesbury, fictional Fox reporter Roland Hedley asked Bush a very similar question:

HEDLEY: Mr. President, you’ve said that your only regret is the poor intelligence you received about WMD’s in Iraq. But since you’ve also claimed you would have invaded anyway, why do you regret that the intelligence was poor?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Why do I regret it? Because of my integrities!

HEDLEY: Which ones, sir?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Compedance! Accountancy! The pie you put on mom’s that love freedom!

HEDLEY: Wow. I guess that says it all.

I agree. That’s probably the best answer we’re going to get.

6 thoughts on “Shooting the last fish in the barrel: Bush’s “biggest regret””

  1. If George Bush were honest (stop laughing!), he would admit his biggest regret (and that’s saying something) was to have catastrophically botched the chance to prevent 9/11 in the first place.

    Bush’s regret timeline should start in the months and days before 9/11, when good intelligence was presented to him on a silver platter. That was the intelligence he should not have ignored, didn’t need to twist, about a threat he didn’t have to fabricate, intelligence provided by professionals who didn’t have the neocons’ delusion of world domination.

    This was so monumental a failure, one with such disastrous, far-reaching and complex consequences, and revelatory of an incomprehensible level of incompetence, that it will be assigned to him forever in history, probably to rank with James Buchanan’s dismal acquiescence to secession, the idiotic invasions of Russia by Napoleon and Hitler, and surely above Herbert Hoover’s failure to deal with the Great Depression.

    …and wouldn’t we all be living in a very different world if George Bush hadn’t failed so spectacularly? That thought has the power to render what happened to Americans and Iraqis an even greater tragedy, because of what might have been if not for this one man’s stupidity and weakness while in the possession of enormous power.

  2. Montfort wrote:

    “If George Bush were honest (stop laughing!), he would admit his biggest regret (and that’s saying something) was to have catastrophically botched the chance to prevent 9/11 in the first place.”

    No, if Bush were honest he’d admit that 9-11 was the best thing that happened during his presidency. It allowed him to invade Afghanistan to secure desired oil pipelines and to invade Iraq, to secure control over Iraqi oil fields.

    9-11 gave him the excuse to gut our Constitution and assume virtually monarchical powers.

    The Bush-Cheney administration studiously refused to heed the warnings from the CIA and FBI about critical terrorist threats to the U.S. between February and September, 2001 because they wanted a terrorist attack to justify their war for oil plans.

    Bush-Cheney also studiously avoided actually capturing or killing Bin Laden after 9-11, because Bin Laden provided a continuing excuse to keep their profitable “war on terror” going.

    The “War on Terror” is the biggest con game in world history and we are all its victims.

  3. I know this is overly simplistic but did you consider the possibility that he is simply a liar and, over the course of eight years, noticed that people don’t generally call him on it?

  4. Perino is but a tool; if she didn’t want to be ‘full of it,’ she couldn’t have accepted the job.

    Bush’s biggest disappointment should have been his choice to run for President. He probably foresaw a 1990s sort of world or his time in Texas, where being a “uniter” meant dealing with conservative Democrats and the like.

    I sort of wonder if he really would have wanted the job given the events that transpired. Cheney? Sure. I can see him thriving in such an atmosphere. Bush? Not so sure about that.

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