With time running short on his presidency — and on the eve of a trip to the Middle East — President Bush seems to have overcome his aversion to talking about his legacy and is now speaking fervently about how he expects to be remembered.
As it turns out, the president sees himself as quite the heroic figure.
“I can predict that the historians will say that George W. Bush recognized the threats of the 21st century, clearly defined them, and had great faith in the capacity of liberty to transform hopelessness to hope, and laid the foundation for peace by making some awfully difficult decisions,” Bush told Yonit Levi of Israel’s Channel 2 News. Bush held several interviews with Middle Eastern journalists last week in anticipation of his trip to the region, which starts tomorrow.
“When he needed to be tough, he acted strong, and when he needed to have vision he understood the power of freedom to be transformative,” Bush said of himself to Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.
As for the people of the Middle East, Bush told Hisham Bourar of al-Hurra Television: “I would hope that they would say President Bush respects my religion and has great love for the human — human being, and believes in human dignity.”
The Bush record, the president told Nadia Bilbassy-Charters of al-Arabiya Television, is one of liberation — “liberation, by the way, not only from dictatorship, but from disease around the world, like HIV/AIDS or malaria.”
On a personal basis, Bush told Bilbassy-Charters that he hopes that people would know “that he hurts when he sees poverty and hopelessness” and “that he’s a realistic guy.”
I just want to say that I hope he has years of robust good health after he’s out of the White House. I want him to live for many more years. I want him to live long enough to know his great-grandchildren. The longer, the better. I mean that. Because I don’t think that bubble is gonna last long once he’s out of office.