For some reason, I just don't think George W. Bush is going to read Hubris: The Inside Story, of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, the new book I co-wrote with Newsweek's Michael Isikoff. Here's an exchange from today's press conference:
Q: Mr. President. You spoke of the troubles in Iraq. And as you know, we have Woodward and we have a shelf full of books about Iraq, and many of them claim that administration policies contributed to the difficulties there. So I'm wondering, is there anything you wish you would have done differently with regard to Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: Speaking about books, somebody ought to add up the number of pages that have been written about my administration. There's a lot of books out there -- a lot. I don't know if I've set the record, or not, but I guess it means that I've made some hard decisions and will continue to make hard decisions.
And...this is the -- this is about the fifth time I've been asked this type of question. And as you know, there are some things that I wish had happened differently -- Abu Ghraib. I believe that really hurt us. It hurt us internationally. It kind of eased us off the moral high ground. In other words, we weren't a country that was capable of, on the one hand, promoting democracy, and then treating people decently. Now the world has seen that we've held those to account who are -- who did this.
You know, there's just a lot of look-backs. Presidents don't get to look back, but I will tell you, the decision to remove Saddam was the right decision. And I would look forward to the debate where people debate whether or not Saddam should still be in power....So when it comes to that decision, which is a decision to cause a lot of people to write books, it's the right decision.
Bush was wrong. Far more books have been written about Abraham Lincoln than George W. Bush. (Sorry, Mr. President.) And note how he ducked the question--for the fifth or whatever time. He offered not one example of any action he would now--with hindsight--have done differently. Instead, he said that he wishes that "some things...had happened differently"--as if these "things" had not been his fault or that of anyone in his administration. Who doesn't wish that the abuse at Abu Ghraib hadn't occurred?
Presidents don't get to look back, Bush said. But that's not quite true. There are no do-overs, yet presidents certainly can review past actions and decisions to figure out what to do better next time. Perhaps if Bush read Hubris or any of the other books, he might realize this.