Breaking: Bush's last press conference?


(All of this is paraphrasing.)

Nice words for the press, nice words for Obama.

Gaza: for a sustainable cease-fire – Hamas stops firing rockets. Hamas’ choice to make. Work with Egypt to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. Israel has a right to defend itself, and he hopes that Israel continues to respect innocent lives. Two-state solution best way for peace, democracy should be the goal, West Bank compared to Gaza. We’ve advanced the process.

Axis of Evil question. Still there? Obama’s biggest threat to deal with will always be an attack on the homeland. North Korea is still a problem – enriched uranium. We need to keep six-party talks, North Korea needs to keep its word. Iran’s still dangerous, too.

No litmus tests for Republican party. The party will come back. Immigration debat?e highly contentious; image is now “GOP doesn’t like immigrants.” Fair or unfair? Not important.

Jake Tapper! Shout-out from W. Kiss of death, W. Kiss of death. Jake asks about the execution of Bush’s ideals? History not written overnight, and things change. The surge worked. Will it work in the future? That’s the issue for future . Economics: started in a recession, ended in a recession, 52 months of growth in between. Tax cuts good; trust people with their money over the government. Yes, I went off the free-market ranch when the economy tanked; I was the one sitting in the chair.

Critics? Bush Derangement Syndrome brought up by a journalist! Why did you create such a phenomenon? Most people I meet aren’t hostile and angry; the ones I meet are civil, not yelling and saying bad things. Beats me why they’re being indecent, and hey: they did the same thing to Lincoln. Maybe it’s because I’m willing to make hard calls. I don’t really care much about the voices; certainly not enough to change policies. Obama’s going to have the same problem, by the way: if he allows the loud critics to affect his behavior, he shouldn’t be able to look at himself in the mirror.

Not going speculate about what Obama’s going to do. But when Bush is out of here, he’s going to be out of here. One person in the lights at a time. The enemy’s still out there, and Bush wishes Obama all the best out there. Likewise the economy; Obama will have to make uncomfortable solutions.

Pardons? I won’t discuss it, sorry. OK, have you made any mistakes (NYT, of course)? Yeah, the “Mission Accomplished” conveyed the wrong message. Some of my rhetoric. Katrina? Naah, you guys would have carped about any which way. Social Security reform over immigration reform after ’04, yeah, that should have been a mistake. Social Security is not the third rail of American politics, but Congress doesn’t take reforming it seriously. Yet. And, by the way, you make decisions on what you know. Abu Ghraib, not having WMDs… incorrect, but mistakes? Also, no such thing as short-term history.

Hey, Obama’s repairing America’s moral standing. What do you think about that? Screw what foreign elite thinks about America. Ask Africa. Ask India. Ask China (oops). Europe? Just parts of it, and by the way, we did have UN sanction for Iraq, so fark off. And fark off on Gitmo. If they want Gitmo closed, they can take some of the detainees. Sure, I could blame Israel for everything, join the UCC, or ratify Kyoto. Or I could do my job. And by the way, fark off on FISA. Everybody was talking about why we didn’t know about 9/11 before it happened; now we’re hearing people complaining about what we do to connect the dots.

What do you think about how the first 350 billion has been spent? And how about the second half? There’s a thaw in the credit markets, which is good and what I was looking for; the rest of it is the President-elect’s issue.

Softball about Obama. He’s going to feel the impact of his job. But he’s not going to be isolated, and his wife and kids are great. “Burdens of the office” overstated, and too easy to feel self-pity (funny fake whine there). I had fun in this job. I had a great team of really capable people, there to serve the country. Obama will be likewise supported.

Protectionism? I’m against it. Those three trade treaties being shot down were a disappointment. The temptation in tough economic times is protectionism. Huge mistake if we become a protectionist nation. Free trade lifts people out of poverty.

New Orleans: what could you have done to make reconstruction better? Also, James Byrd? 121 billion and school systems and people moving back in; reconstruction hasn’t been perfect, but it’s being done. Home ownership good. Don’t tell me federal response was slow – 30K were pulled off the roofs right after the storm passed.
As for Obama: I consider myself fortunate to have a front row seat for a historic moment for this Presidency. Always going to be work to do with people’s hearts (that’s a good line, by the way).

How long a break are you going to take? Oh, heck, probably not one. By the way, I really did quit drinking. 8 years of intel briefings; the big stuff is what could happen. You never escape the President. I figure that Wednesday I’ll make coffee for Laura.

Uniter, not a divider? Or is that going to be Barack’s job? Can he? I hope so, but I hate the tone of DC. I don’t play the needless name-calling game [a shame, that – ed]. We did do some stuff together, but the rhetoric got out of control – and you can ask the people who did it why it did – and I hope that it’s better for Obama. Big question why ordinary people want to get into this sort thing, given the rhetoric. But criticism remains necessary, of course.

And Helen Thomas didn’t get to say a word. I’m not entirely certain that she was awake.

Moe Lane

PS: If you are a person who goes to sleep at night praying that the first act of President Obama is to order the arrest of former President Bush and his officials: you really don’t want that to happen. The press is happily following a narrative about how Bush is smoothing the way for Obama’s taking office, and anybody pushing the arrest-them-all meme is going to look extraordinarily petty.

Well, more petty.