In an interview airing on NBC last night, former president George W. Bush discussed his tumultuous presidency, everything from the aftermath of 9/11 to the chaos of Hurricane Katrina to the downfall of the economy in his last year in office. He spoke candidly about his time in the White House, as well as his earlier years. The interview as a whole didn’t reveal anything new, with the exception of the revelation of him driving his mother to the hospital after she suffered a miscarriage.
Interviewed by “Today Show” host Matt Lauer, Bush seemed honest yet detached when being asked about his time as President. He lit up when discussing meeting 9/11 workers at ground zero, and then spent much of the rest of the interview defending everything he did. His justification for water boarding, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib even, defined by one phrase: “We didn’t have (another) attack.”
He repeatedly showed his apparent dismissal of the status of his popularity, always pointedly stating how he didn’t care about his approval ratings. It seemed as if it was a belief he came to rather than always had, a defense mechanism of sorts. How else can you live with being arguably the least-popular president ever?
His answers seemed nothing but rehearsed; the questions weren’t exactly softball questions, but they all had been asked before. Perhaps the questions weren’t pre-approved, but pretty much expected. After, all, what else could they talk about? There are too many questions one would want to ask. Did you have any intelligence about a possible terrorist attack prior to 9/11? Why do you deny there being any intelligence when your Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, admitted there was? Why did you approve water boarding? Why do you feel one of the parts of your presidency was something a rapper said about you?
The only interesting thing about the interview is the fact that’s he’s doing any at all. The new memoir, “Decision Points,” seems to sum everything we thought he’d say. It all just seems to be his way of justifying everything he did. As he says in the interview, he’s looking to how history will see him, how people years and years from now will look at him.
Bush’s reputation is pretty much set. People have moved on from him; right after he left office, he seemed to have left the public consciousness as well. People were ready for a change, and they were seemingly more than happy to see him go. If Bush expects a dramatic change of view after he dies, he better think again. By the time enough time passes for a chance to perhaps look at him in a different light, people will be busy being either dismayed or encouraged by the current president. Everything about his presidency was so polarizing that it might be a long while before people want to bring it up in public discourse. He wants a chance to explain himself, it seems, but we’ve all just heard it before. If nothing else, this interview just seemed to be a waste of time.