Those who watched his departure from the White House with relief should prepare themselves. George W. Bush, the former Republican president of the United States, returns. Starting today, and for a long season, it will be nearly impossible not to see him in the media. Before being released for sale yesterday, his memoir, “Decision Points,” was already one of the most in-demand books on Amazon, and now the ex-president is to commence a national tour that will include a few television appearances.
Bush has already granted one interview, in which he has reinvented himself as a man against the violence utilized to invade Iraq. He has had two years to rethink and explain. Two years in the refuge of his ranch in Crawford, Texas, after leaving Washington as one of the least-accepted presidents in history, to reappear now as a man that seeks understanding.
The president that invaded Iraq, created Guantanamo and authorized systematic torture and secret prisons not only presents himself as a naive politician, pushed by his advisors to enter Iraq, but he also says that he suffered for it. Perhaps for the 150,000 deaths — the majority civilian — that have been caused to date by that decision? No. Bush suffers because they never found weapons of mass destruction that supposedly were hidden by Saddam Hussein and that were the reason for the invasion. “I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do,” he laments.
There is another sorrow: how he reacted badly to Hurricane Katrina. For the rest, faithful to himself he explains, pleasantly (with his Texas boots on the table?), the most difficult decisions of his life through which, he thinks, he saved lives. How, when the CIA asked him for permission to torture a detainee of 9/11, he responded, “Damn right.” And along the same line, he clarified his permission of the water boarding of the detainees, in that it is a strong method that does not cause permanent harm.
Yesterday Bush signed books at a hectic pace. With a first printing of 1.5 million copies, there will be many benefits, but the CIA no longer asks him questions. Now, he can change his history, but his decisions do not change ours.