September 03, 2007
|Dead Certain||Iraq Politics|
The NYT has some excerpts from interviews Bush gave to author Robert Draper for his forthcoming book, Dead Certain:
[I]n an interview with a book author in the Oval Office one day last December, [Bush] daydreamed about the next phase of his life, when his time will be his own.
First, Mr. Bush said, "I'll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers." With assets that have been estimated as high as nearly $21 million, Mr. Bush added, "I don’t know what my dad gets — it's more than 50-75" thousand dollars a speech, and "Clinton's making a lot of money."
Then he said, "We’ll have a nice place in Dallas," where he will be running what he called "a fantastic Freedom Institute" promoting democracy around the world. But he added, "I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch."
For now, though, Mr. Bush told the author, Robert Draper, in a later session, "I'm playing for October-November." That is when he hopes the Iraq troop increase will finally show enough results to help him achieve the central goal of his remaining time in office: "To get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence," and, he said later, "stay longer." [...]
As Mr. Draper described it, Mr. Bush began the interview process over lunch last Dec. 12, in a week when he suddenly had free time because his highly anticipated announcement of a new Iraq strategy had been postponed.
Sitting in an anteroom of the Oval Office, he eschewed the more formal White House menu for comfort food — a low-fat hotdog and ice cream — and bitingly told an aide who peeked in on the session that his time with Mr. Draper was "worthless anyway."
But as Mr. Draper described it, and as the transcripts show, Mr. Bush warmed up considerably over the intervening interviews, chewing on an unlit cigar, jubilantly swatting at flies between making solemn points, propping his feet up on a table or stopping him at points to say emphatically, "I want you to get this" or "I want this damn book to be right." [...]
And in apparent reference to the invasion of Iraq, he continued, "This group-think of 'we all sat around and decided' — there's only one person that can decide, and that's the president." [...]
In response to Mr. Draper’s observance that Mr. Bush had nobody’s "shoulder to cry on," the president said: "Of course I do, I've got God's shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot." In what Mr. Draper interpreted as a reference to war casualties, Mr. Bush added, "I'll bet I've shed more tears than you can count as president."
Yet Mr. Bush said his certainty that Iraq would turn around for the better was not for show. "You can't fake it," he told Mr. Draper in December. [...]
"I've been here too long," Mr. Bush said, according to Mr. Draper. "Every time I start painting a rosy picture [about Iraq], it gets criticized and then it doesn't make it on the news."
But he said he saw his unpopularity as a natural result of his decision to pursue a strategy in which he believed. "I made a decision to lead," he said, "One, it makes you unpopular; two, it makes people accuse you of unilateral arrogance, and that may be true. But the fundamental question is, is the world better off as a result of your leadership?" [...]
Mr. Bush acknowledged one major failing of the early occupation of Iraq when he said of disbanding the Saddam Hussein-era military, "The policy was to keep the army intact; didn't happen."
But when Mr. Draper pointed out that Mr. Bush's former Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, had gone ahead and forced the army's dissolution and then asked Mr. Bush how he reacted to that, Mr. Bush said, "Yeah, I can't remember, I'm sure I said, 'This is the policy, what happened?'" But, he added, "Again, Hadley's got notes on all of this stuff," referring to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser.
Mr. Bush said he believed that Mr. Hussein did not take his threats of war seriously, suggesting that the United Nations emboldened him by failing to follow up on an initial resolution demanding that Iraq disarm. He had sought a second measure containing an ultimatum that failure to comply would result in war.
"One interesting question historians are going to have to answer is: Would Saddam have behaved differently if he hadn't gotten mixed signals between the first resolution and the failure of the second resolution?" Mr. Bush said. "I can't answer that question. I was hopeful that diplomacy would work." [Emphasis added]
So, he's The Decider, but he's got no idea how the Iraqi Army got disbanded. Doesn't remember all of that "stuff". I bet Cheney remembers.
Dead Certain. Could the irony of that title be any more grotesque?