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Has George W. Bush Become a More Sympathetic Character? Has George W. Bush Become a More Sympathetic Character?

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Has George W. Bush Become a More Sympathetic Character?

In his first in-depth interview since leaving office, President George W. Bush spoke with NBC's Matt Lauer in an hour-long program Monday night. From 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq to Hurricane Katrina to the Wall Street meltdown, Bush reflected on the major decisions of his presidency, as discussed in his new memoir "Decision Points." Though he expressed remorse about a number of moments during his reign, he stood behind his most controversial actions.

Here's what pundits are saying about Bush's reemergence in the spotlight:


He told the very personal story of how as a teenager he drove his mother to the hospital after she suffered a miscarriage, and discovered how “straightforward” she was when she showed him the remains of the fetus in a jar.

He also gave an example of how out of control he could be before he gave up drinking. “So, I’m drunk at the dinner table at Mother and Dad’s house in Maine. And my brothers and sister are there, Laura’s there. And I’m sitting next to a beautiful woman, friend of Mother and Dad’s. And I said to her out loud, ‘What is sex like after 50?’ ”

There were other moments when Mr. Bush was defensive, but for the most part he looked more relaxed and unguarded than that at any time in his presidency, even chuckling.

  • Will Inevitably Help Explain His Pro-Life Views, writes Leonard Greene at The New York Post:

"I never expected to see the remains of the fetus, which she had saved in a jar to bring to the hospital," Bush writes..."There was a human life, a little brother or sister," Bush told the "Today" host...

Bush said his mother gave him special permission to recount the private story in print. But "the purpose of the story wasn't to try show the evolution of a pro-life point of view," Bush insisted to Lauer. "It was really to show how my mom and I developed a relationship."

  • Gives a More Nuanced Understanding of President Bush, writes Mark McKinnon, Bush's former campaign media advider, in The Daily Beast:

I'm glad President Bush has published Decision Points—not so much because I think it will help rehabilitate his image or improve his place in history, though I think it will help on those counts.  I'm glad because I believe readers will get a sense of the George W. Bush who I've known for 15 years—a man who is very different than the distorted public image many have come to accept as accurate.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, President Bush is very smart, quietly reflective, often contrite, and deeply humble.  He is also a strong leader who, while relying on the strong counsel of many around him, makes his own decisions.  He was secure enough to hire a vice president like Dick Cheney, and strong enough that it was never in doubt who was the boss. Just ask Scooter Libby, who Cheney said Bush was going to "leave a soldier on the battle field" by refusing to pardon him.

  • He's Still Delusional, writes liberal columnist Steve Kornacki at Salon:

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