Bush defends presidency in ‘Decision Points’

November 17th, 2010

Former President George W. Bush waves as he signs copies of his book, “Decision Points,” at a store near his Dallas home on Nov. 9. (AP)

Following the release of his much-anticipated book, “Decision Points,” former President George W. Bush has received both praise and criticism for his memoir.

Released last week, “Decision Points” talks about topics ranging from his alcohol problems to his decision to go to war in Iraq. Throughout the book, the former President admits that he made mistakes, but also defends many of the actions he made during his tenure in the Oval Office.

He writes in the book that his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in May of 2003 and his slow reaction to Hurricane Katrina were among important decisions that he sincerely regrets.

When asked about his premature declaration of victory in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, Bush said, “No question it was a mistake. If I had to do it all over again, which you don’t get to do when you’re the president, you know, I’d have said, ‘Good going, men and women, great mission’ or something.”

Bush also writes about the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: “No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.”

When asked by Lauer if there was ever a consideration to apologize to the American people regarding this failure, Bush defended his decision to invade Iraq.

He said, “I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision. And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision. I thought the best way to handle this was to find out why and what went wrong, and to remedy it.”

In his book, Bush also reveals that he had ordered the Pentagon to plan an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and considered a covert attack on Syria. And when he was approached by the CIA about the possibility of waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaida mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Bush writes that his response was “Damn right.”

After largely remaining out of the public eye after his presidency, Bush has made many appearances to promote his book, including signings in book stores across the country.

In addition to his interview with Lauer, Bush has also made TV appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and with FOX News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly to promote his book.

He told Winfrey that writing the memoir “was an easy process … A lot of people don’t think I can read, much less write.”

When asked by O’Reilly what the one thing was he wanted readers to take away from the book, Bush responded, “I want to put the reader in my position so that whether he or she agree with my decisions or not, at least they will understand how the process worked. I want to give the historian a point of reference.”

“Decision Points” sold roughly 220,000 copies on it’s first day, according to Random House, Inc. In comparison, fellow former President Bill Clinton’s “My Life,” had first day sales of around 400,000.

Clinton praised Bush, describing the memoir as “well-written, and interesting from start to finish. I think people of all political stripes should read it.” Clinton went on to say that Bush “gives readers a good sense of what it’s like to be president, to take the responsibilities of the office seriously, do what you think is right, and let history be the judge.”