Wrong Decisions

Iraq’s government has decided to reverse a decision made by the Bush administration that was by all accounts a disastrous mistake. From today’s NYTimes:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 2 – The Iraqi government called Wednesday for the return of junior officers from the disbanded army of Saddam Hussein, openly reversing an American directive issued in 2003.

…Many American commanders and military analysts have said the dissolution of the 400,000-member Iraqi Army in May 2003 drove many thousands of Sunni Arab soldiers and officers into the insurgency while depriving the country of a force that could help restore order. American and Iraqi officials now say a core part of the Sunni-led insurgency is made up of former members of Mr. Hussein’s military.

Well, perhaps this admission and attempted rectification of a major Bush administration mistake will make it easier for Bush to answer the following question, posed to him during a press conference in April 2004:

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you’d made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You’ve looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

THE PRESIDENT: [Hmmm…] I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time, so I could plan for it.

[Uhhh…] John, I’m sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could have done it better this way, or that way. [Uhhh…] You know, I just [uhhh….] — I’m sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn’t yet.

…[General musings on how all of his major decisions have been right, not wrong.]

I hope I — I don’t want to sound like I’ve made no mistakes. I’m confident I have. I just haven’t — you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.

Or if he can’t answer that one, maybe now he can answer this question, posed to him during one of the Presidential debates last year:

LINDA GRABEL: President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it. Thank you.

BUSH: I have made a lot of decisions, and some of them little, like appointments to boards you never heard of, and some of them big.

…[General musings on how all of his major decisions have been right, not wrong.]

Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I’m not going to name them. I don’t want to hurt their feelings on national TV.


On second thought, perhaps this news from Iraq doesn’t help Bush to answer Ms. Grabel’s question. After all, it is clearly the Iraqi government that has realized that Bush made a wrong decision, and it is clearly the Iraqi government that is taking steps to correct the mistake. So Bush may still be as stuck as ever when asked if he’s ever made any mistakes as president. Of course, we’ll have to wait until someone actually asks him this question again before we know for sure…

On a side note: it’s interesting to reflect on the fact that the only mistake that Bush has ever admitted to, albeit in very unspecific terms, is that he may have occasionally appointed the wrong people…