I think it was a repudiation of Republicans. And I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me. 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.
I like that last sentence. That ought to kill all that speculation that we elected Barack Obama by accident. We made a conscious choice. Good to know. You ever notice how Bush will say something obvious, then say "in other words" and say something just as obvious? Sometimes the "other words" aren't even other words, just the same words in a different order and in a different tense. It's like he's thinking he's got to say more, so he pads his word count. In other words, he's padding his word count because he thinks he needs to use more words.
Other answers were frustratingly insane. Gibson asked him about "do-overs" and got this for an answer:
I don't know -- the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that's not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.
He doesn't wish he hadn't invaded Iraq, he doesn't wish he hadn't killed all those people as needlessly and uselessly as he has, he wishes the later evidence supported invading Iraq. This is a man who confuses the order in the term "cause and effect." The BS intelligence caused us to invade Iraq, making the invasion a mistake. I'm so ready to get some guy who understands logic in the White House, mostly because I'm so tired of this fool. I guess he's right, some people voted for Barack Obama because of him. Some people would've voted for a cinderblock instead of a Republican because of him. I can personally vouch for that.
But it was the first questions asked in the interview that are being overlooked. Mostly because of the demented and/or confused and/or stupid statements I've related above. Not covering those would've been amazingly bad journalism and incredibly incompetent punditry. Sometimes, the low hanging fruit is as important as it is easily plucked.
Still, with yesterday's news that we've been in a recession for nearly a year, you'd think that the economic questions would get a little more attention. We've been in the Bush recession (the second Bush recession, by the way) for a year and no one seems to be all that concerned about Bush's views on the economy?
CHARLIE GIBSON: Mr. President, let's start with the economy because it's what's on everybody's mind. Your successor will inherit not just a troubled economy, but an economy in crisis. Did you miss any signals that this would --
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You know, we anticipated some issues revolving around Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and early in my administration called for a regulator, on the knowledge that an implied government guarantee could cause, and eventually did cause, the agency to become excessive in its lending practices, which eventually was a part of the financial meltdown.
And I can remember sitting in the Roosevelt Room with Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke and others, and they said to me that if we don't act boldly, Mr. President, we could be in a depression greater than the Great Depression.
See, George is peddling some BS here and Charlie Gibson -- as he can be counted on doing -- didn't call him on it. Yes, Bush called for a regulator, but the type of regulation he wanted wasn't wouldn't have done anything to save to two -- which, in any case, weren't the cause of the meltdown anyway. While the right has been busy blaming the collapse of the housing bubble on the poor taking out bad loans, the Bush administration had previously been encouraging just that. In fact, they required it:
White House Office of Management and Budget, 2006:
Government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) were chartered to help low- and moderate-income families secure mortgages. HUD recently published a rule that requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase their purchases of mortgages for low- and moderate-income households and underserved communities. These new goals will push the GSEs to genuinely lead the market in creating homeownership opportunities for less advantaged Americans.
In addition to increasing the annual housing goals through 2008..., HUD’s rule establishes new home purchase sub-goals in each of the three goal areas. This is intended to focus the GSE’s efforts on purchases of homes rather than refinancings. HUD projects that over the next four years, the GSEs will purchase an additional 400,000 home loans that meet these new and more aggressive goals as a result of the new rule.
You might remember Bush talking about "the ownership society." This is it.
"Freddie Mac will launch 25 initiatives to eliminate homeownership barriers," Bush said in 2002. "Under one of these, consumers with poor credit will be able to get a mortgage with an interest rate that automatically goes down after a period of consistent payments." The Bush administration was working to get people with bad credit into the lending market. The assumption -- and make of that what you will -- was that people with bad credit were mostly poor and minority.
Who would bringing these people into the market benefit the most? In the short term, the credit industry. In the long term, no one. But corporations think in terms of quarterly profits -- there is no long term thinking. Loan originators and mortgage brokers would make money selling loans to institutions. Republican ideology would (theoretically) benefit as well.
"Well before the ownership society had a neat label, its creation was central to the success of the right-wing economic revolution around the world," wrote Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism in January. "The idea was simple: if working-class people owned a small piece of the market -- a home mortgage, a stock portfolio, a private pension -- they would cease to identify as workers and start to see themselves as owners, with the same interests as their bosses. That meant they could vote for politicians promising to improve stock performance rather than job conditions. Class consciousness would be a relic." Call it Pax Republicana. If everyone belonged to the investor class, everyone would be a Republican.
I'm always amazed at how Republican political theory often looks like the Marxist view of the future; this happens, then that happens, then history stops and everything stays perfect forever. Karl Rove's "permanent Republican majority" comes to mind. If they can just get things just exactly right, then welcome to Utopia. Unfortunately, the dreamers never get it exactly right.
"The mass eviction from the ownership society has profound political implications. According to a September Pew Research poll, 48 percent of Americans say they live in a society carved into haves and have-nots -- nearly twice the number of 1988," Klein wrote. "Only 45 percent see themselves as part of the haves. In other words, we are seeing a return of the very class consciousness that the ownership society was supposed to erase. The free-market ideologues have lost an extremely potent psychological tool -- and progressives have gained one..."
At the end of his second term, Bush is unquestionably a failure. A Midas in reverse, everything he's touched turned to crap. His ideology has failed on nearly every point and his party is a smoking ruin. In Bush's exit interview, we see a man who still doesn't get it and still wants to place blame everywhere but where it belongs.