In his last press conference, President Bush on Monday deflected the many criticisms leveled at his eight-year tenure, saying he inherited the recession and defended his Middle East policy. At times, the president contradicted himself and appeared delusional to what he put the country through for eight years. “Presidents can try to avoid controversy,” he declared after saying that Abraham Lincoln had his share of critics. “That’s just not my nature.” Indeed.
On the Bush tax cuts—which disproportionately benefited upper class Americans—Bush stated he will “defend them after my presidency as the right course of action…I sided with the people on this issue.” Ironically, those tax cuts, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, came as “government spending has increased significantly in all major categories: defense spending, domestic spending and entitlement spending.”
But after defending his tax cuts, the president claimed he took decisive action once the economy came to a roiling collapse in September. “If you were sitting there and heard that the depression could be greater than the Great Depression, I hope you would act too, which I did,” he said, explaining why he “chucked” his free market philosophy that engendered the collapse in the first place.
Bush, however, did acknowledge he made mistakes during his tenure, among them being placing the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him on an aircraft carrier in a May, 2003 speech. His primary concern, he stated, was an attack on American soil. Yes, Mr. President, that must be why you decided to invade Iraq while letting the country which bred the terrorists who attacked America deteriorate.
On Iraq, the president concentrated on the 30,000-troop surge as the turning point that changed the situation there. By most accounts, that’s very true, and perhaps historians will look kindly on him for that policy. Yet will the mothers and fathers of soldiers that died there do the same? One common analogy is that the surge contained a fire Bush unnecessarily started—which seems to be an encompassing theme of his presidency.
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