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Political News and Commentary from the Right

Bush says he was not ready for war upon taking office

Greatest regret was faulty intel on Saddam’s weapons
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press

In a surprisingly candid admission, President George W. Bush said that when he was elected to the White House he was not prepared to wage war and that one of his biggest regrets as president was the inaccurate intelligence upon which he based his decision to attack Iraq.

During an interview airing Monday night on ABC’s World News, Bush also expressed regret about the global economic crisis and said Barack Obama’s election was a repudiation of his policies and the Republican Party.

He also expressed remorse that the global financial crisis has cost jobs and harmed retirement accounts and said he’ll back more government intervention if needed to ease the recession.

“I’m sorry it’s happening, of course,” Bush said. “Obviously I don’t like the idea of people losing jobs, or being worried about their 401(k)s. On the other hand, the American people got to know that we will safeguard the system. I mean, we’re in. And if we need to be in more, we will.”

The U.S. economy fell into a recession in December 2007, the National Bureau of Economic Research reported on Monday. Many economists believe the current downturn will last until the middle of 2009 and will be the most severe slump since the 1981-82 recession.

On the war in Iraq, Bush said the biggest regret of his presidency was the “intelligence failure” regarding the extent of the Saddam Hussein threat to the United States. With the support of Congress, Bush ordered the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 — a decision largely justified on grounds — later proved false — that Saddam was building weapons of mass destruction.

Asked if he would have ordered the U.S.-led invasion if intelligence reports had accurately indicated that Saddam did not have the weapons, Bush replied: “You know, that’s an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can’t do. It’s hard for me to speculate.”

During a discussion about what Americans should know about what it is like to be president, Bush was asked what he was most unprepared for going into the office.

“I think I was unprepared for war,” he said. “In other words, I didn’t campaign and say, ‘Please vote for me, I’ll be able to handle an attack.’ In other words, I didn’t anticipate war. Presidents — one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen.”

On the presidential election, Bush called Barack Obama’s victory a “repudiation of Republicans.”

“I’m sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me,” said Bush, who leaves office with low approval ratings. “I think most people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for the next four years explaining policy. In other words, they made a conscious choice to put him in as president.”

As he leaves office, Bush said he felt responsible for the economic downturn because it’s occurring on his watch, but he added: “I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so” before he became president.

He said he would like to see “instant liquidity” in the markets given the extent of the financial rescue plan, yet he understands that fear has paralyzed the markets.

“It is hard for the average citizen to understand how frozen the system became and how over-leveraged the system became,” Bush said. “And so what we’re watching is the de-leveraging of our financial markets, which is obviously affecting the growth of the economy.”

Last week, the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve pledged $800 billion to break through blockades on credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and other borrowing. The latest moves raised U.S. commitments to contain the financial crisis to nearly $7 trillion — though no one thinks the government will actually spend that much.

The figures include loans that are expected to be repaid, loan authorities to back mortgages, purchases of stock in banks, guarantees to support loans among banks and pledges backing other transactions.

“This economy will recover,” Bush said in the interview conducted last Wednesday at the Camp David, Md., presidential retreat. “And when it recovers, many of the assets backed by the government now will be redeemed, and we will — could conceivably — make money off of some of the holdings.”

Later in the interview, he said: “I can’t guarantee that we’ll get all our money back, but it’s conceivable we could.”

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Bush | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saxby Chambliss Wins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Georgia Sen. Chambliss wins re-election in runoff

By SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA – Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss handed the GOP a firewall against Democrats eager to flex their newfound political muscle in Washington, winning a bruising runoff battle Tuesday night that had captured the national limelight.

Chambliss’ victory thwarted Democrats’ hopes of winning a 60 seat filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. It came after a bitter month long runoff against Democrat Jim Martin that drew political luminaries from both parties to the state and flooded the airwaves with fresh attack ads weeks after campaigns elsewhere had ended.

Minnesota — where a recount is under way — now remains the only unresolved Senate contest in the country. But the stakes there are significantly lower now that Georgia has put a 60-seat Democratic supermajority out of reach.

With 70 percent of the precincts reporting, Chambliss captured 60 percent to Martin’s 40 percent. Chambliss’ win is a rare bright spot for Republicans in a year where they lost the White House as well as seats in the House and the Senate.

“It’s been a hard and tough four weeks,” Chambliss said at a victory party in Cobb County. “We had a hardcore campaign on both sides and while things look good right now, we’re going to continue to follow the returns as they come in.”

Chambliss’ mantra on the runoff campaign trail was simple: His re-election was critical to prevent Democrats in Washington from having a blank check. Chambliss, 65, had angered some conservatives with his vote for the $700 billion bailout of the financial services industry and his early support in 2007 for the guest worker provision in President Bush’s immigration bill. But fearful of unchecked Democratic dominance, some came back into the GOP fold Tuesday.

Martin made the economy the centerpiece of his bid, casting himself as a champion for the neglected middle class. He also linked himself at every opportunity to Barack Obama and his message of change. The Democratic president elect was a no show on the campaign trail in Georgia but did record a radio ad and automated phone calls for Martin.

In the end, Martin, a 63-year-old former state lawmaker from Atlanta, wasn’t able to get Obama voters back to the polls in large enough numbers to overcome the Republican advantage in Georgia, which has become an increasingly a reliable red state since 2002.

Turnout was light throughout the state Tuesday. A spokesman for Secretary of State Karen Handel predicted between 18 and 20 percent of the state’s 5.75 million registered voters would cast ballots — far less than the 65 percent who voted in last month’s general election.

The runoff between the former University of Georgia fraternity brothers was necessary after a three-way general election prevented any of the candidates from getting the necessary 50 percent.

Chambliss came to the Senate in 2002 after defeating Democratic Sen. Max Cleland in a campaign that infuriated Democrats. Chambliss ran a TV ad that questioned Cleland’s commitment to national security and flashed a photo of Osama bin Laden. Cleland is a triple amputee wounded in the Vietnam War.

He was a loyal supporter of President Bush and, as a freshman, rose to become chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. the former agriculture lawyer from Moultrie has been the ranking Republican on the panel since Democrats won control of the Senate.

Some 3.7 million people cast ballots in this year’s general election, and both sides have since tried to keep voters’ attention with a barrage of ads and visits by political heavy-hitters.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore both stumped for Martin. President-elect Barack Obama recorded a radio ad for Martin and sent 100 field operatives, but he didn’t campaign in the state despite a request from Martin to do so.

Several ex-Republican presidential candidates made appearances for Chambliss, including GOP nominee John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Chambliss brought in Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s vice presidential pick, as his closer. She headlined four rallies for Chambliss across the state Monday that drew thousands of party faithful.

Associated Press writers Greg Bluestein, Kate Brumback and Errin Haines contributed to this report.

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Election 2008 | , , | Leave a comment