Bush admits mistakes, but cites India among accomplishments

January 13th, 2009 - 11:13 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 13 (IANS) President George W. Bush has admitted mistakes but cited his image in India among accomplishments to assert that America’s moral standing has not been damaged during his eight year watch.”I strongly disagree with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged,” he said at his final the final news conference of his presidency Monday.

“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 the, you know, opiners and all that. That’s fine. That’s part of the deal.”

“You go to Africa, you ask Africans about America’s generosity and compassion; go to India, and ask about, you know, America’s - their view of America. Go to China and ask,” Bush said when asked to comment on incoming Obama administration’s talk about restoring America’s tarnished image in the world..

But “Clearly, putting a ‘Mission Accomplished’ [banner] on an aircraft carrier was a mistake,” Bush said about how his administration handled the fall of Baghdad to US troops. “It sent the wrong message.”

He termed other aspects of the US invasion of Iraq “disappointments,” including the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

“I don’t know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were - things didn’t go according to plan, let’s put it that way,” Bush said.

Admitting another mistake, Bush said that he should have pursued a comprehensive immigration overhaul after the 2004 election, instead of Social Security reform.

He said that Congress did not have the political will power to tackle Social Security at the time because the programme was not facing an “imminent” funding crisis.

But Bush said plenty went right during his eight years in office, including the economy for most of his term. “I inherited a recession, I’m ending on a recession. In the meantime, there were 52 months of uninterrupted job growth,” he said.

“And I defended tax cuts when I campaigned, I helped implement tax cuts when I was president, and I will defend them after my presidency as the right course of action.”

Bush also said that despite harsh criticism at the time, the federal government responded well to Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2005.

“Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed,” he said.

“Could things have been done better? Absolutely. Absolutely. But when I hear people say the federal response was slow, then what are they going to say to those chopper drivers or the 30,000 that got pulled off the roofs?” he asked.

Bush asserted that his administration did the right things in protecting the US from terrorists, even though critics said individual freedoms were compromised by administration policies.

“In terms of the decisions that I had made to protect the homeland, I wouldn’t worry about popularity. What I would worry about is the Constitution of the United States and putting plans in place that make it easier to find out what the enemy is thinking,” he said.

Bush said that as a “Type A” personality, he’ll want to keep active after he turns the White House keys over to President-elect Barack Obama next Tuesday.

“I just can’t envision myself, you know, the big straw hat and a Hawaiian shirt sitting on some beach,” he said.

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