Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bush Admits Mistakes

You know we made mistakes in the war on terror. They know we made mistakes. Everybody knows we made mistakes.

The President knows it. Hell, he knows about mistakes we don't even know about yet. He just doesn't talk about it.

And so the mem grew and grew: "President Bush never admits mistakes."

It was another symptom of the Madness of King Chimpy. As though being aware of mistakes and adjusting to them was inseparable from constantly and publicly flagellating yourself for them.

Which, gods know, Bush could do all day long if he chose to. My beef with him is the same as a lot of neo-cons'. But what good would come of yapping about it? Bush would be stating the obvious, and he'd only encourage his (and in some cases our) enemies and discourage his (and in some cases our) friends.

Admitting mistakes, in the current political and global environment, would win you no friends you don't already have and only would whet the appetite of those who long to see you fall. Good or bad, Bush's fault or not, that's just the way it is.

It would be politically stupid and strategically unhelpful. The "he never admits mistakes" mantra was ginned up on the domestic left. You don't see many moderate Muslims saying, "I'd like to stand up for freedom in my homeland, but gosh, that Bush never admits mistakes! So fuck it."

So, now, Bush admits mistakes.

"Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing," Bush said Thursday evening in a White House news conference with Blair. "Not everything has turned out the way we hoped."

And elsewhere:

In unusually introspective comments, Bush said he regrets his cowboy rhetoric the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks such as his "wanted dead or alive" description of Osama bin Laden and his taunting "bring 'em on" challenge to Iraqi insurgents.

"In certain parts of the world, it was misinterpreted."

He also cited the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. "We've been paying for that for a long time," Bush said.

And what's the reward for that blunt honesty? Within minutes, the Associated Press was breathlessly announcing on its newswire an alert to editors to save some space, because:

Upcoming in about an hour:

WASHINGTON — President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair looked less like cheerleaders for the latest milestone of democratic political progress in Iraq and more like world leaders who had met their match. An AP News Analysis by AP Diplomatic Writer Anne Gearan.

Emphasis added. Gee, who could have seen that coming?