Bush Regrets “Bring it On” Statement — Still
In what is being termed “a stunning admission,” President Bush yesterday told reporters that he regretted some of the more flippant language he used during the early days of the war.
[I]n an unusual admission of a personal mistake, Mr. Bush said he regretted challenging insurgents in Iraq to “bring it on” in 2003, and said the same about his statement that he wanted Osama bin Laden “dead or alive.” Those two statements quickly came to reinforce his image around the world as a cowboy commander in chief. “Kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people,” Mr. Bush said. “I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner.”
Crooks and Liars has the video.
Peter Daou exclaims, “The significance of this shouldn’t go unnoticed. Bush has now admitted what the progressive blog community has said all along: Bush’s tough talk was wrongheaded and cost lives.”
Joe Gandleman notes that, “After years of being criticized for not admitting mistakes, Bush finally did and now he’s being criticized by both sides (the right, for saying it; progressives, for waiting so long and by his defenders who had steadfastly insisted for years that there was nothing wrong with his words).”
Oddly, however, this admission is neither stunning nor new. This has been his stock answer for months in response to the “What mistakes did you make?” line of questioning. See, for example, this January WaPo piece by Dan Froomkin. Steve Soto, Brad DeLong, and others debated it at the time.
Bush seems to be reflecting on whether wartime presidents should use sound bytes that play well to the crowd but might appear jejune to world leaders. He is certainly not admitting that those words “cost lives.” Indeed, it’s rather unfathomable that they did. It’s not as if, prior to his utterances, the jihadis were failing to “bring it on” and were roused from their non-violent ways in response to Bush’s urging.