I know that to forgive is divine, but gosh it’s hard to watch this spate of Bush exit interviews on TV without hurling something at the screen. Take the recent interview on ABC: a cozy fireside chat featuring Bush, seated beside Laura on a couch, with Charlie Gibson tossing him puffballs about “regrets” or “mistakes” during his presidency. In reply, Bush—wearing his slacker grin—rues “intelligence errors” about WMD in Iraq, while sympathizing with those who died on that account; and later, when asked about the tanking economy, explains that it was caused by actions of others: lax regulators, greedy bankers, a “housing bubble”—anything but the malfeasance of his administration. Indeed, throughout the entire interview, Bush consistently resorted to that common responsibility-shirking device of the passive voice: “Mistakes were made.”
If only once—and when better than now, finally?—Bush would acknowledge where, in our democracy, the buck stops. But no. Instead, he uses these lame-duck interviews to attempt to rewrite history in his favor: forgetting the Katrina disaster; omitting his failure to be alert to terrorist attack and to capture Osama bin Laden; failing to mention his kicking the UN inspectors out of Iraq when they were consistently reporting an absence of WMD; refusing to include, as a direct cause of the nation’s economic collapse, his own persistent demands that banking and lending regulations be eased.
The process of redemption begins with assuming responsibility. If Bush should ever do so, then I’ll consider forgiving him. Perhaps.
Update: It was published on December 8, 2008.