Critiquing a Volatile Presidency

The Bush/Iraq debate is often about whether he knew there were no WMDs ["Bush's Legacy: Waging Preventive War in Iraq,"].


The Bush/Iraq debate is often about whether he knew there were no WMDs ["Bush's Legacy: Waging Preventive War in Iraq,"]. That's not why Bush lost our trust. I fault him as much as anybody, not because I think he knew but because when he found out he covered. Americans understand mistakes. If Bush didn't know, which he probably didn't, all he had to do was say so. But no, even when his own weapons inspector, David Kay, came back with the bad news, like Nixon, Bush continued to cover. He even gave George "Slam Dunk" Tenet a Freedom Medal for screwing up. This failure of presidential accountability continued throughout his administration. Whether it was the WMDs, the Abu Ghraib scandal, the failure to send sufficient troops, the failure to provide troops and their vehicles with body armor, or Guantánamo, Bush always made sure we found out what was going on from someone else.

Comment by John Holmes of WA

I know this is minority opinion, but I think President Bush was right to take out Saddam Hussein. Most people agreed with the need to invade Afghanistan to get at al Qaeda. We knew that al Qaeda had elements in northern Iraq (outside of Saddam's control), and we know in hindsight that they had contact with Saddam's agents and planned to begin an insurgency in mountainous Afghanistan. That would have been intolerable. The invasion of Iraq shifted this insurgency to more favorable ground for us—politically, militarily, and geographically. In addition, the invasion resolved the question of Saddam's WMD program once and for all. Iraq also has the potential benefit of germinating into a true middle-eastern democracy. No president has had to face as much turmoil—from economic, natural, and military crises—while at the same time being tainted as a minority president. These presidents never do well in the public eye.

Comment by Justin Mills of OH

President Bush launched a two-front war on either side of our long-term enemy, Iran. Very risky; it could have been worse. Had enough troops been sent, perhaps the war would have lasted only six months. Furthermore, President Bush failed to achieve our history of successful American statecraft in negotiating tyrants out of power, instead of using U.S. troops to drive them out, as with Haiti, Philippines, etc. Even in Afghanistan, serious diplomacy may have worked, but in Iraq especially, a more serious effort should have been used. We will never know if the war was unnecessary.

Comment by R. Raven of MN

The war in my opinion was a sound idea based on the intelligence we had at that time, but it was very poorly executed in the early years. I think many of the tactics we have used successfully of late are things we should have known to do right from the start.

Comment by Scott of MN

Bush, the worst president by far in U.S. history, says he's looking forward to getting off the stage and back into a private life. That's because he understands nobody is going to want to talk with him. He's now a pariah, the guy who led the nation off the cliff and left the Republican Party in shambles.

Comment by James Anderson of NY

I believe in 50 years Bush will be viewed much differently than today. There are those who now say, "had he just said he was wrong . . . " but the statement doesn't hold water. Bush inherited a mess from an administration who ran a nonstop campaign in office instead of addressing real issues. He made mistakes, but he did his best to proactively address issues most American's cannot understand. Too many American's are knee-jerk Bush haters driven by the media and a Democratic Party hell bent on power. We shall soon find out just how "competent" they really are.

Comment by Jerry of CO

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