Bush Gives Final Press Conference Video

01.12.09 | FL News Team

A reflective and combative President Bush sharply defended his administration's performance during his final press conference as president. Bush talked about mistakes and things that have not gone well.

Bush said he is not prone to "pathetic...self-pity" and refuses to ask, "why me?" Asked about mistakes, Bush said history will judge his administration. Bush argued that it is not in his nature to avoid hard decisions and controversial decisions.

Bush expressed regrets about the "Mission Accomplished" banner that hung above him as he spoke aboard a Navy carrier, early in the Iraq war. He called the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a "significant disappointment." Bush brushed-off his long-running low public approval ratings and again defended his decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Bush also rejected the notion that America's moral standing in the world has been compromised because of his administration's treatment of terror suspects.  

The President strongly defended his actions after the September 11th attacks. He asked if reporters remembered what Washington was like after the attacks, and how people were "hauled in front of Congress" and asked why the dots weren't connected. He remarked that after steps were taken to connect those dots, people objected to methods used to do so. Bush stated that he's not worried about being popular, only about putting plans in place to make it easier to find out what the enemy is thinking.

Despite the growing recession, Bush cited "52 months of job growth" before the housing market collapsed. He insisted that long range economic problems started before he became President. Bush defended the aggressive tax cuts he pushed through Congress, early in his administration, and said he will continue to defend them. Critics have long asserted that the Bush tax cuts were aimed primarily at the wealthiest Americans. Among regrets, the President said he wishes Congress would have heeded his call to reform Social Security.  

A combative Bush rejected the notion that the government's response to Hurricane Katrina was slow. He noted that "30-thousand people got pulled off roofs" and out of the water shortly after the devastating storm passed through. He agreed that much more needs to be done before New Orleans is fully recovered and restored. Bush defended his decision to observe Katrina's aftermath from the air. He remarked that if he had decided to go to those affected cities personally, it would have required security personnel that was vitally needed elsewhere to help hurricane survivors.

Bush called for a "sustainable ceasefire" in Gaza. The President said the ceasefire cannot happen until Hamas agrees to stop firing missiles at Israel. He accused Hamas of continually seeking to "disrupt democracy" in the troubled region and insisted that Israel has a right to defend itself. Bush defended his administration's efforts to craft a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Bush said a "two-state solution" is the best path to peace. He expressed optimism about achieving a lasting peace agreement and said his administration has "advanced the efforts."  

Closing his last news conference as President, Bush cited the election of America's first African-American President. He said next week's inauguration of Barack Obama will be "amazing moment." Republican Bush wished Democrat Obama "all the best."  Asked what advice he has given Obama, Bush said the "stakes are high" as terrorists continue plotting to attack the U.S. again.

Bush said he's been talking with Obama about whether to ask Congress to release the second half of the Wall Street fund, also known as TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). About half of the roughly 700-billion dollars has been spent to boost sagging financial institutions. Bush said Obama has not yet asked him to seek authorization to release the second half, roughly 350-billion dollars.