President Bush held his final press conference today.
He reminded the liberal press that he brought victory to Iraq and that he kept this country safe for 8 years.
The AP posted video:
Breitbart reported on the final press conference:
President George W. Bush mounted a defiant and emotional defense of his “good, strong record” on Monday, rejecting criticism of his “war on terror” tactics and policy in Iraq and on the economy.
In his last formal news conference before ceding power to Barack Obama on January 20, Bush highlighted the “troop surge” in Iraq and his efforts to rescue the US economy as it slumped into the worst recession since the 1930s.
He warned that Iran and North Korea, which he famously included in an “axis of evil” were still dangerous and said Obama still faced the grave threat of an attack on the US homeland.
The White House posted the transcript.
The President did not hesitate to defend his record:
Jake Tapper: In the past, when you’ve been asked to address bad poll numbers or your own popularity, you’ve said that history will judge that you did the right thing, that you thought you did the right thing. But without getting into your motives or your goals, I think a lot of people, including Republicans, including some members of your own administration, have been disappointed at the execution of some of your ideals, whether Iraq or Katrina or the economy. What would your closing message be to the American people about the execution of these goals?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, hard things don’t happen overnight, Jake. And when the history of Iraq is written, historians will analyze, for example, the decision on the surge. The situation was — looked like it was going fine and then violence for a period of time began to throw — throw the progress of Iraq into doubt. And rather than accepting the status quo and saying, oh, it’s not worth it or the politics makes it difficult or, you know, the party may end up being — you know, not doing well in the elections because of the violence in Iraq, I decided to do something about it — and sent 30,000 troops in as opposed to withdrawing.
And so that part of history is certain, and the situation did change. Now the question is, in the long run, will this democracy survive? And that’s going to be the challenge for future Presidents.
In terms of the economy, look, I inherited a recession, I am ending on a recession. In the meantime there were 52 months of uninterrupted job growth. 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. And there’s a fundamental philosophical debate about tax cuts. Who best can spend your money, the government or you? And I have always sided with the people on that issue.
Now, obviously these are very difficult economic times. When people analyze the situation, there will be — this problem started before my presidency, it obviously took place during my presidency. The question facing a President is not when the problem started, but what did you do about it when you recognized the problem. And I readily concede I chunked aside some of my free market principles when I was told by chief economic advisors that the situation we were facing could be worse than the Great Depression.
So I’ve told some of my friends who said — you know, who have taken an ideological position on this issue — why did you do what you did? I said, well, if you were sitting there and heard that the depression could be greater than the Great Depression, I hope you would act too, which I did.
Michelle Malkin has more on Bush’s big government legacy.
More… Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard has a terrific list 10 Things Bush Got Right.