Bloomberg-- Bush has tried to have a gracious transition, which is why it’s hard to understand why he refused to grant a small request by Barack Obama and his wife to check in a few days early at Blair House, the 119-room complex within the security perimeter of the White House, so their girls could start school. The State Department had no planned visits from foreign heads of state. There are more than 100 other ceremonial rooms, should there be receptions. And there was only one overnight guest, a former -- yes, former -- prime minister of Australia, John Howard, attending a one-hour event at the White House. Howard wouldn’t have had to move to the Embassy Suites but to the Aussie Embassy, at worst. Surely he wouldn’t have minded making room for the president-elect. There would have been no need to share a bath. Blair House has 35. If not for the Obamas, Bush could have said yes for the sake of the taxpayers. The middle of Washington is in gridlock as the Secret Service has built a bunker around the hotel the Obamas moved into at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars in security.
According to the CBC: In the final news conference of his presidency, President George W. Bush strongly dismissed suggestions that the United States lost its moral standing during his administration, insisting his most vociferous critics are few. Bush bristled when asked whether certain policies like the war in Iraq, U.S. interrogation tactics and the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had a negative impact on America's moral standing. "I strongly disagree with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged," Bush said. "It may be damaged amongst some of the elite, but people still understand America stands for freedom, that America as a country provides such great hope. My view is that most people around the world, they respect America. And some of them don't like me. I understand that — some of the writers and opiners and all that. That's fine; that's part of the deal. But I'm more concerned about the country and how people view the United Sates of America."
Bloomberg Margaret Carlson, author of “Anyone Can Grow Up: How George Bush and I Made It to the White House”: Bush is embarked on a massive legacy project, displayed on a White House Web site in a 52-page book called “Highlights of Accomplishments and Results.” Each chapter ends with a box of factoids headed “Did You Know?” and the book lists his top 100 achievements. It pictures Bush atop the pile of rubble at Ground Zero with a bullhorn.
He told ABC television he deeply regretted U.S. intelligence failures, without mentioning he had sent his vice president to camp out at CIA headquarters until the professionals packaged the intel the way he wanted it. He doesn’t explain why former CIA Director George “Slam Dunk” Tenet deserved the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The legacy project can put a gloss on any event, just as flying footwear from an Arab journalist is a symbol of the “free society” he created in Iraq, and Hamas is another pillar in his crusade to spread democracy.
The Taliban in Afghanistan are stronger under a corrupt, opium-soaked government. But it’s all part of the success described with phrases like “Established the Freedom Agenda to Spread Hope Through Liberty” and “Set a Bright Course for America’s Future.”
With glasses that rose-colored, you realize how Bush could see bodies floating in the streets of New Orleans and proclaim that his disaster chief was doing a heckuva job. And how his mother, visiting a shelter in Houston, said those with one black trash bag of belongings were “underprivileged anyway” so living there was “working very well for them.” Stuff happens.
You’d never know from the book that Bush had watched as Iraq burned, its antiquities were stolen and hospitals were stripped bare. Bush’s biggest claim is that he kept us safe, but only if you don’t count 9/11, which he says “came out of nowhere.” That ignores the warning in his hands a month earlier -- “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” -- and reports that young Arabs were learning how to fly airplanes but not to land them.
On the economy, he touts a record of prosperity. But the crowing only works if he’s talking about before Lehman Brothers and other banks tanked in the fall, partly because he refused to regulate a raft of new and risky financial instruments.
The Congressional Budget Office projects the deficit will more than double to at least $1.18 trillion this year and that unemployment will top 9 percent next year.
Consumer confidence is at its lowest point since the measurement started. The Dow Jones average, which rose above 14,000 in 2007, now stands at about 8,700.
In 2001, there were no U.S. deaths in Iraq. By lunchtime with the presidents on Wednesday, more than 4,200 had died.
Bush may be hoping one day to return to the capital, landing at an airport renamed in his honor. That will take quite a legacy project.
According to the NY Times; Yet to talk to people still inside the Bush White House is to come away with a sense that they do not feel defeated at all. Rather, having been through the crucible of the worst terrorist attack on American soil, two wars, a hurricane of biblical proportions and the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression, they describe a sense of achievement and honor in having served the country, and in particular this president. If there is sadness, it is only that they must part ways so abruptly by week’s end.
ConsortiumNews: One of the surprising claims that stood out among the combined 90 pages of so-called accomplishments was the White House’s glowing assessment of Bush’s record on veterans’ issues. Bush claims he “provided unprecedented resources for veterans” over the past eight years and provided “the highest level of support for veterans in American history … The budget increases that have occurred mostly were enacted over Bush’s opposition or related to the fact that injuries from the Iraq War far exceeded the administration’s rosy projections in early 2003. Before Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, documents released by the Department of Veterans Affairs said it expected a maximum of 8,000 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, according to a study released last year by the RAND Institute, there are more than 320,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars suffering from major depression, PTSD and/or traumatic brain injury.
For his part, Bush stacked the VA with political cronies, such as former Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson, who as VA Secretary defended a budget measure that sought major cuts in staffing for healthcare and at the Board of Veterans Appeals; slashed funding for nursing home care; and blocked four legislative measures aimed at streamlining the backlog of veterans benefits claims. Of the 84,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by VA, only half, about 42,000, had their disability claim approved by VA. Instead of expediting PTSD claims, Bush's political appointees at VA actively fought against mental health claims. Bush's appointees also obstructed scientific research into the causes of Gulf War illnesses dating back 18 years to Operation Desert Storm and opposed medical research on treatment for 210,000 of those veterans. Even after Nicholson’s resignation, the Department of Veterans Affairs continued to be buffeted by scandals, including a cover-up in an epidemic of veterans’ suicides and attempted suicides. And last November, internal watchdogs discovered 500 benefits claims in shredding bins at the 41 of the 57 regional VA offices around the country.
Bush’s so-called accomplishments also claimed that Bush “reduced the number of homeless veterans by nearly 40 percent from 2001 to 2007. That statement rankled Aaron Glantz, a journalist, author and the Rosalynn Carter Fellow for Mental Health Journalism at the Carter Center. “What kind of President pats himself on the back with 200,000 veterans sleeping homeless on the street every night? That contradicts the Bush self-congratulations about veterans’ homelessness.
The Sidney Morning Harold:
The last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Bush's presidency found that 79 per cent of Americans will not miss him. Iraq burned, New Orleans flooded, and Bush remained oblivious to each and every pratfall on his watch. Americans essentially stopped listening to him after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, but he still doesn't grasp the finality of their defection. Bush is equally blind to the collapse of his propaganda machinery. Almost poignantly, he keeps trying to hawk his goods in these final days.
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