Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 4, 2010

A FEW THINGS FOR BUSH TO GET OFF HIS CHEST.... I'd be surprised if former President George W. Bush's new book sold especially well -- aside from a few far-right fanboys, I'm not even sure who the intended audience is -- but that's not to say it will be devoid of interesting tidbits.

Revelations have been dribbling out in recent days -- we learned earlier in the week that Bush considered dropping Cheney from the ticket in '04, for example -- and today we learned that he admits to having ordered torture.

Human rights experts have long pressed the administration of former president George W. Bush for details of who bore ultimate responsibility for approving the simulated drownings of CIA detainees, a practice that many international legal experts say was illicit torture.

In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.

The Bush administration's use of torture isn't exactly new, but I don't recall the president boasting previously about his direct role in the crime.

Bush also told NBC's Matt Lauer yesterday that the "all-time low" of his presidency was when rapper Kanye West said "George Bush doesn't care about black people" on live television.

At the risk of sounding picky, I find that to be truly astounding. Looking back at the tragedy of Bush's presidency, I would have thought 9/11 represented an "all-time low," or perhaps Katrina, or the start of the wars, or the collapse of the global financial system. But instead it was a mean comment from an entertainer the president doesn't even know?

Pressed on this point by Lauer, Bush responded, "No -- that -- and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well."

So, the effect of the Katrina devastation was on par with Kanye West's slight?

What an odd man.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Quote: "What an odd man."

You misspelled 'fucking idiot'

Posted by: Litterbox on November 4, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

To be fair, Kanye was sumarising Bush's handling of Katrina.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on November 4, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

What are you surprised about? Everything about the Bush family and esp. Bush II is that it's all about them, them, them. I would bet money that Bush II is chickens@#T to go on the Daily Show, Colbert, Maddow,or even Letterman or tingle up my leg Chris Matthews.

Posted by: warren terrah on November 4, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

As far as the question of how well Bush's book is likely to sell, Steve knows as well as any of us that the books will be bought in bulk and then sold at a discount to ensure that it ends up on a bestseller list.

Posted by: Kiweagle on November 4, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

You know, I could almost understand it if he'd said "The Dixie Chicks" comment. At least he'd heard of them.
Bush's a sociopath, so, does anyone think he's at all sorry about anything he did?
He got away scott-free with torture, war crimes, and countless other, not only impeachable offences, but criminal acts.
'What, me worry?'

Posted by: c u n d gulag on November 4, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Litterbox -- +1

Posted by: JCT on November 4, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Dubya. The low point in American history. No, make that World history.

Posted by: jcricket on November 4, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

This book will be one of the biggest best-sellers of the season, hitting a major chunk of the audience that made Sarah Palin's book the best-selling non-fiction title last fall. While I could care less about GWB's musings, anyone familiar even the tiniest bit with the publishing industry knows this one will work hugely.

Posted by: BrklynLibrul on November 4, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Check out the 5 Myths About George W. Bush at the Washington Post:

I'm not sure if it is parody or the beginning of the Reaganization of W, but the debunking of Myth 1 (1. George W. Bush was an uninformed Texas cowboy.) seems to rest on him being from New Haven. Best I can tell, that just means he was an uninformed Yankee pretending to be an uninformed cowboy.

It's going to take a lot of work to clean up W's reputation, but the main stream media seems up for the job. Afterall, they helped make him everything he was.

Posted by: martin on November 4, 2010 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Hopefully Darrell Issa will read the book and find a good starting point for all of his "happy in my pants" subpoenas.

Posted by: Steve on November 4, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

@litterbox: Excellent post.

He and Laura looked like they had been sucking on lemons at the last Rangers game.

Posted by: dbcooper on November 4, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Litterbox - hall of fame quote.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on November 4, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Look, the man once said that the moment he revisited most often in his mind was throwing out a pitch at a ball game. (here)

What else could you expect? How can anyone even pretend to be shocked or dismayed at what a small, small man was the 43rd President?

Posted by: bernard gilroy on November 4, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

aside from a few far-right fanboys, I'm not even sure who the intended audience is

All the Rangers fans who gave him such a heartwarming welcome last week could use the pages of this tome to mop up their tears at having been thumped by hippies with Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco values.

Channeling Nelson Muntz: HA, HAAAAAAA!

Posted by: shortstop on November 4, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Kanye West gets some attention. I feel as though my 15 minutes are still intact, I would be tortured for what I said about this [what Litterbox @ 9:28 said].

Louisiana affected me deeply as well - shrub
Wrong. You inflicted deeply. EX: Meningitis affects deeply.

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on November 4, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

What is truly odd about this is Bush is a man that revels in belittling people with nicknames. He doesn't mind throwing personal jabs, but he hurts so much receiving them. A man saturated with psychoses.

Posted by: plim schmuggin on November 4, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Note that the publication of the book, and the surrounding media events, were timed for after the election. Wouldn't want the voters reminded of this guy. Nor of the fact that most of the current crop of "anti-establishment" Republicans spent eight years as his hoarse-throated cheerleaders.

With Democrats steadfastly refusing to remind anyone about GWB, the Republicans sure won't going to do it for them.

Compare this exquisite piece of timing to the way one high-level Obama administration official after another chose to leave their posts before the election.

As usual it's not that Democrats are bad at the game - most of the time they don't even realize they're playing it.

Posted by: Basilisc on November 4, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I know this is pure fantasy on my part. Could not Eric Holder, in an opportunity to grow a backbone, make some hay out of this revelation? Could any of those milquetoast Dems?

Posted by: buddym on November 4, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently the Kanye West thing exceeded his longstanding angst over trading away Sammy Sosa. But Bush is the classic bully. He's all swagger with a weak center. He can dish it out be he could never ever take it. A Yalie in a cowboy hat.

I have to stop now and take my meds ...

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on November 4, 2010 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

It's just an indication of how insulated Bush has been, was, and still is about human conditions outside of the county club environment in which he exists. If you're going to be president, you have to have some pretty thick skin if you assume that almost have of the country doesn't want you to be the president (in his case it was more than half) and so to carry an offense from an accusation made years ago by an entertainer!? but not express similar feelings about the world changing events that happend during his watch is just sad.

Posted by: Vandal on November 4, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK


Thank you ... your comment made my day.

P.S. What an odd screen name :-)

Posted by: 3reddogs on November 4, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Narcissistic personality disorder, anyone? Hundreds were dying in NOLA and he's upset because an entertainer criticized him. That tells you all you need to know. The other gobsmacker in the book, according to the NYT, is that Shrub delayed so long replacing Rumsfeld, who was botching two wars where our soldiers were dying, because he couldn't think of anyone who'd take the job. Then an old high school friend (!) suggested Gates. The depth of his shallowness is mind-boggling.

Posted by: dalloway on November 4, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

We have known for a long time that Bush is a narcissist.

Narcissists care what other people think about them. They do not care about other people's feelings. Of course the one instance in which someone famous disapproved of him would hurt him.

Posted by: Walker on November 4, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

One has to wonder how the World Court will deal with Bushit's admission to ordering the breaking of the Geneva Convention's Torture ban. War crimes are usually only admitted to after an arrest and trial of the individual because the sentence handed out is normally, death.

Let's start the clock on this one and see how long it takes for the world to be outraged about this admission. I bet Glen Greenwald is astonished, as well as Jonathan Turley.

To the Hague with him!!!!

Posted by: Stevio on November 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

This morning the Today Show showed a clip of the new interview with "fucking idiot", and it was just a breathtaking memory jogger of what a cipher that man is. Besides his freely admitting illegal wire taps and torture (things he vociferously denied at one time, but now appears to proudly parade around after the Cheney-palooza tour).....the man just comes across as a one-day-old tabla-rosa doll you wind up with a few dozen talking points and turn loose.

Posted by: Oh my on November 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

"In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique..."

But, if the book is as ghost-written as Palin's (an assumption on my part, but likely), won't Bush's defense at his trial be: "I never wrote that - my ghost writer did!"

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I thought Obama's comments yesterday about not re-litigating the past were an allusion to his non-prosecution of Bush, and perhaps a veiled threat: if Republicans want to go down the path of litigation, impeachment, etc, then the prosecution of George Bush just might come back into play.

And Matt Lauer actually proved to be a journalist by identifying what was offensive about Bush's comment:

"I wonder if some people are going to read that, now that you've written it, and they might give you some heat for that. And the reason is this...You're not saying that the worst moment in your Presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You're saying it was when someone insulted you because of that."

Posted by: delNorte on November 4, 2010 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

tabula-rasa not tabla-rosa.

....must hit preview before criticizing someone's low intelligence.

Posted by: Oh my on November 4, 2010 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone for a book burning?

Posted by: Ted76 on November 4, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Holder will get around to prosecuting Bush on the admission of war crimes right after he's finished making sure DADT stays in effect.

Posted by: doubtful on November 4, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

#1: the international criminal court only gets involved in cases where nations are parties to the ICC treaty (not the US), or where it is clear that the nation in question will not ever prosecute the crime.

#2: Once the statute of limitations passes for ordering torture, in another few years, then the US cannot and will not ever prosecute.

#3: A presidential pardon would have the same effect as #2.

#4: a politically connected war criminal might get treated lightly by the US courts (particularly the USSC), but not at the ICC.

#5: So wait a few years and ship W off to the Hague. At last, a good use for extraordinary rendition.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on November 4, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

It's no surprise that Bush would consider a personal slight aimed at him more important than the real tragedies suffered by others in Katrina or any similar event. Everything revolves entirely around Bush, and he is certain he deserves it.

That's part of his anger with his father. He had to demonstrate that he was at least as good as his father, so he had to become President too.

The extreme self-centeredness is not unusual in America politics. The Senate, for example, attracts people like this or creates them once they get into that body. They are each the center of their own worlds and no one else matters.

Posted by: Rick B on November 4, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

He is DARING Obama to prosecute him for war crimes.

I sure hope Holder takes this up.

The best defense is a good offense.

Posted by: jjm on November 4, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

"Human rights experts have long pressed the administration of former president George W. Bush for details of who bore ultimate responsibility for approving the simulated drownings of CIA detainees, a practice that many international legal experts say was illicit torture."

This quote taken from an article in the Washington Post, a publication that many media experts "say" is a journalistic enterprise.

Gotta love the media - too scared of facts to report them as anything but opinion. That way they can never be wrong...the fact that it means they will never be right either is unimportant. Really, could somebody in the news media please grow a pair?!?!

Ooops! Damn it! I just knocked over my coffee and what many physicists "say" is gravity combined with fluid dynamics spilled it all over what many fashion experts "say" are my pants.

Posted by: Chesire11 on November 4, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

This revelation ain't goin' nowhere...except up. 90% of Americans will think his admission is a feather in his cap.

Posted by: dms on November 4, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Bush was arguably the healthiest best rested President in our nation's history. Look at pictures of Bush in 2000 and compare them with Bush in 2008. After presiding over 9/11, Katrina, two wars, an economic meltdown only surpassed by the Great Depression and host of other problems what do you see? A little more gray, a few more lines. But he still looked fit.

Now compare pictures of Clinton in 1992 with Clinton in 2000. Or Bush Sr in 1988 with Bush Sr in 1992. Both men looked like they aged 30+ years during the Presidency. You could see the weight of the office in their faces. Even Reagan requited ever thicker amounts of makeup and hairgel to look good. Carter looked like death warmed over by 1980.

The Presidency affected those men deeply. They knew the decisions they made and the things they chose to do affected real people and had real consequences. And good or bad the stress of those decisions took a real physcial toll on all of them.

But not Bush jr. He left the White House looking just as healthly as the day he came into office. He got his excersise everyday. Probably went to bed on time every night. Got up at a reasonable hour. The pressure and responsibility of the Presidency of the United States seems to have barely touched him.

I think of no clearer proof that George W Bush never really took the job seriously. Never really understood the effect the decisions he made had on real people.

Whether you liked Clinton, Bush Sr, Carter or Nixon there was no doudt they CARED about the job they did. You could literally see it there bodies.

Bush Jr never cared.

Posted by: thorin-1 on November 4, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is (and always was) all hat. Nothing under that Stetson but stale air.

Posted by: cmac on November 4, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

This sort of thing seems to me to be a result of him wanting to say things in public that he knows perfectly well that he must not say in public. He ends up sounding inarticulate and foolish.

Let me translate.
Here I was playing the hero.
Playing hero, that's my job.
So here I am saving these people from this disaster just like before and they are ungrateful.
Can you believe it!

Kanye West saying that was like a gut punch to his hyper inflated sense of heroic self importance. I'm sure he fully expected to stage another aircraft carrier moment. Kanye West supplied a dash of cold water reality.
It is easy to see why a narcissist would have a problem articulating that.

Posted by: thebewilderness on November 4, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it was an 'all-time low' because that was the moment Bush realized that Kanye was right.

Posted by: Shadow on November 4, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

To thorin-1's point, Bush looked healthier than ever but, Cheney had to be rolled out in a wheel-chair. Kinda makes you wonder.

Posted by: Winkandanod on November 4, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

@thorin-1 - thanks, that was an excellent point. objective signs of narcissism and indifference, in one sense.

One additional point to note is the Bush family has prided themselves on their lack of racism. I know that George H.W. Bush felt very strongly about that. I have no reason to think George W. Bush was especially racist, either, as much as I dislike him. I believe that Kanye's remarks would have cut across his self-image in a very painful way.

Posted by: Rathskeller on November 4, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK



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