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What George W. Bush says about Harry Reid and not about Sarah Palin

Republican former president George W Bush signs his book Decision Points for a little girl in Dallas 11-9-10

On his new late-night TBS program, Conan O'Brien noted Tuesday that former President George W. Bush was on Oprah's show that day, talking about his memoir, "Decision Points." And, O'Brien added, asked what it was like to be leader of the free world, Oprah had replied, "It's not bad."

True enough. After 22 months out of the spotlight, the 43d president is suddenly back in it, seemingly popping up everywhere, telling the types of personal stories once confined to only the closest friends and aides. He's signing books for long lines in Dallas and talking to many big-name media types. Last night, Sean Hannity from the ranch. Before that, the bald guy from the "Today Show."

Bush hasn't been able to squeeze in a chat yet with that perky news anchor or anyone from the other financially-troubled Times newspaper. And chances are really good, based on history, that he won't.

It's a different Bush we're seeing now, more relaxed and comfortable, publicly....

...candid, self-deprecating as friends have always seen him and less wary of the media that he felt chewed up his presidential father unfairly. When Oprah, an outspoken campaign supporter of Bush's Democratic successor, commented that she hadn't seen him in a long time, Bush jokingly replied, "Yeh, where ya been?"

Bush refuses to second-guess Obama or criticize his successor's performance or criticism of him. But with each interview we learn a little more. The man says he doesn't want to make news. But Bush said a couple more interesting things in his long conversation Tuesday with Rush Limbaugh after signing 2,400 books in a Dallas store (See photo below of waiting lines).Long lines of buyers wait to purchase former President George W Bush's memoir Decision Points on publication day 11/9/10

Bush had a visceral reaction when Limbaugh asked about the Iraq war and particularly Nevada's now reelected Democratic Sen. Harry Reid's famous comment: "This war is lost."

"Sometimes," Bush recalled, "if you're president and people are tired of you, you just have to soldier on. I was convinced we could succeed in Iraq, and I knew failure in Iraq would be catastrophic and success could be transformative. So on this particular issue, you know, I said I'm gonna do what I think is right, and I spent quite a bit of time in the book writing about that."

Limbaugh editorializes that: "In my lifetime, I don't recall a political party ever opposing their own country at war, seeking a defeat as the Democrats were. I mean Harry Reid was out there, Mr. President, "This war is lost."

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes.  I chronicle that moment, and I didn't like it then. I don't like hearing it now because, as a leader in the Senate, I felt it was an irresponsible act, irresponsible statement to say to a mother or, you know, a loved one your child or loved one is heading into a losing situation. You can disagree with the policy, disagree with whether we should work to establish democracy in Iraq after we liberated it, but to condemn soldiers heading into mission to a lost cause is just, you know, is inexcusable, as far as I was concerned.

RUSH:  Why didn't you do more about it?  Why didn't you comment more about it at the time?  I mean, I asked you once, and you said that you didn't want to sully the office of the presidency by descending to base political level.  But I mean this was not simply base politics.  This was keeping the country safe.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I understand that, but on the other hand I do believe in the institution of the presidency, and I didn't think it was right then, I still don't think it's right to engage in name-calling if you're the president of the United States.  I was focused on the mission, as were the troops. 

And because of their bravery and sacrifice the situation turned around shortly after that statement. I've discussed this with other people in my administration, when they call me a liar should I have called them names, and my attitude was, no then, obviously, and I still feel very strongly that's the way a president ought to conduct himself.

 Bush also seeks to set the record straight about what he didn't say about Sarah Palin. Rush asked about reports he'd told friends she was a poor 2008 running mate choice by John McCain. Bush's response:

I have never said that, of course, nor have I read about it. You know, I'm not gonna comment on anybody who might be running for president. But that's what happens in today's world, the blogosphere. You know, people get to hide behind some codename or something. They toss out a gossip or rumor and it floats around the Internet. I never said that, never would have said that.

Bush also talks about the tea party, Arizona's legislative attempt to combat illegal immigration and Bush's unsuccessful effort to get broadscale immigration reforms. The full Limbaugh-Bush transcript is right here.

And our esteemed Times colleague Tim Rutten, who called Bush's memoir "unexpectedly engrossing," has a full book review right here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: G.J. McCarthy / MCT; Tom Pennington / Getty Images.

Comments () | Archives (13)

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How is it the biggest War Criminal since Hitler not only hasn't been tried in the Hague, but is out on tour promiting his book? America has become a disgrace to the planet.

Keeping our country safe? From What? Even if Saddam was building bombs, how was he a threat to the U.S.? Saddam didn't have no ICBM's. Saddam couldn't touch the U.S. if he prayed to Allah. And there were no Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq. I'll give ya keeping us safe. You people don't even know who just shot a missile off the cost of Cali.

I wonder why Bush would speak to Limbaugh and refuse to debate the real issues he left on the table. I wonder why Limbaugh refuses to debate anyone who has displayed a fondness for facts and knows them well. I wonder why an American would support the republican two class system of government rather than the democratic two party system. I wonder why an American would vote to be enslaved by the ruling class Bourgeoisie (capitalist). I wonder when the Proletariat (working class) will revolt and throw overpaid useless under the bus where they rightfully belong. It's coming, you can smell it just like the rotting corpse laying in the heat of the Iraqi sun. We have followed a false God and now he pauses to rewrite history to avoid the guilt he must feel every time he closes his now sober eyes.

Lest you think I'm being a bad "loser" let me correct the fallacy of your thinking. Unlike Bush and his associates, I have seen war up close and very personal. like any other intelligent human I will avoid it at all cost or win it instantly and with little fanfare as war represents the failure of my country to resolve an issue without descending to the level of our enemy. That is a lesson the bloviating republican never took the time to learn and to foist a Sarah Palin on us is the ultimate display of shear stupidity.

Liberals still crying about losing to Bush for two terms. Socialism is horrible and its the reason that Republicans are winning again this time around. Cya later Obama Muslim Bin Laden and your marxist sheep aka liberal america.

So How Did the Bush Tax Cuts Work Out for the Economy, You and Me?

The 2008 income tax data are now in, so we can assess the fulfillment of the Republican promise that tax cuts would produce widespread prosperity by looking at all the years of the George W. Bush presidency.

Just as they did in 2000, the Republicans are running this year on an economic platform of tax cuts, especially making the tax cuts permanent for the richest among us. So how did the tax cuts work out? My analysis of the new data, with all figures in 2008 dollars:

Total income was $2.74 trillion less during the eight Bush years than if incomes had stayed at 2000 levels.

Average incomes fell. Average taxpayer income was down $3,512, or 5.7 percent, in 2008 compared with 2000, President Bush's own benchmark year for his promises of prosperity through tax cuts.

Had incomes stayed at 2000 levels, the average taxpayer would have earned almost $21,000 more over those eight years. --

The GOP’s Intellectual Dishonesty Regarding Bush Tax Cuts
Republicans say that tax cuts for the wealthy must be extended to protect the economy and small businesses, even though neither would be affected by their lapse.

Bush is attempting to put a spin on the worst administration in US history. There will no doubt be some who may listen and some might even be predisposed to have a sympathetic ear. But for the thousands of young Americans who died in Iraq or were maimed in his contrived occupation agenda it is too late for his self serving spin.

If Bush is the biggest war criminal on the planet, then the people who failed to indict him are guilty of dereliction of duty at the least, and possibly they are guilty of treason. OR.............the "criminal" crap is the favorite cry of the Ignorant Bird.

Wow... reading these comments is eye-opening.
Liberal bloggers are psycho. They call Bush "the biggest War Criminal since Hitler." Get real. Even if you are passionately against the Iraq War, torture, etc., do you have absolutely zero grasp of World history since 1945? No sense of scale, or perspective? Geez!

Yet these same psycho's that say that type of stuff with complete sincerity will completely lose their sh*t at anyone who calls Obama a... wait for it... wait for it... "Muslim" as THAT is clearly most insanely ignorant and hateful accusation that a stupid bigot could make....

Tony the twit is incapable of understanding that calling a person a Muslim who actually observes a different faith does not upset anyone. It does call into question the cognitive abilities of those who need to be continually reminded as to their utter lack of comprehension. But nobody has ever said that Repugs were smart.

What is distasteful to most people is the attempt to use the term Muslim as if it were some kind of slur. Sadly this only reinforces the perception of the GOP as a party of fools who would vote a dullard into office if given half a chance.

Just what, exactly, did the US "win" in Iraq?

How did he keep us safe?
Didn't 9/11 happen on his watch or are repubs now going to revise that bit of history as well?

"It's a different Bush we're seeing now, more relaxed and comfortable, publicly...."

nah, he's the same clueless failure...and judging from the tiny ratings the nbc primetime interview got, most of "we're" are NOT interested in "seeing" him again....

Oh my goodness. What a bunch of hypocrites. President Bush like Obama, and Clinton, and Bush Senior etc. ad nauseum are all great men. No matter what anyone say's. It comes down to the basic fact that you have to have some leadership skills just to obtain the highest office in the land. Some do it with surrounding themselves with great people. Some do it with false speeches of Hope & Change. WORST PRESIDENT EVER= the one we have now. Sine I have actually lived and was born and raised in a Socialist regime you Americans are idiots and lazy self-serving wannabe communists. You can not see the forest from the trees. Obamacare is going to turn our healthcare into a Russin Supermarket. You can only get one kind of bread...that is if their is any bread left to buy...I know, I lived it!!. Stop buying into the Leftest, Union Propoganda. It is individualism that makes America & Americans great. You dont believe me...go live in Cuba or China, Or North Korea, or Iran for a few months. You'll do all you can to get back here and kiss the ground.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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