Bush at his new library on Wednesday (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
DALLAS—More than four years after George W. Bush left the White House, there seems to be one word the former president has adopted to describe how he feels about the decisions he made in office: “comfortable.”
Bush has repeatedly used the word in interview after interview over the last several days as he returned to the spotlight to promote Thursday’s opening of his presidential library here on the campus of Southern Methodist University.
"I'm comfortable with what I did," Bush told the Dallas Morning News in an interview published last week. "I'm comfortable with who I am."
Asked about one of the most controversial aspects of his presidency—his decision to invade Iraq—Bush upped the ante even further, telling ABC’s Diane Sawyer that he’s “very comfortable” with that decision.
“I am comfortable in the decision-making process. I think the removal of Saddam Hussein was the right decision for not only our own security but for giving people a chance to live in a free society,” Bush declared.
Indeed, those closest to him insist Bush is not someone who second-guesses the decisions he made as president. But that doesn’t mean he is not concerned about his legacy and the way the public perceives him.
Aides say the 43rd president personally played a role in choosing what went into “every single exhibit” at his library. He and his supporters hope the facility will encourage the public to reassess his presidency—particularly on domestic issues that were overshadowed by controversy over his handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“He literally looked at every exhibit and said, ‘I want this, I want that,'” said Mark Langdale, who, as head of Bush’s private foundation, oversaw construction of the library. “He views this as a way for the public to get all the facts so that they can make an educated decision about how they regard him and what he did in office.”
In some ways, it appears that at least some of that reassessment has already started. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier this week found 47 percent of those polled approve of Bush. That’s the highest approval rating he’s received in seven years. Still, the former president’s numbers remain dismal at best. A CNN poll released Wednesday found that 55 percent of those polled believe Bush’s presidency was a “failure.” That is, however, an improvement over 2009, when 68 percent thought he was a “failure.” When he left office, Bush dismissed his low poll numbers and insisted history would be his ultimate judge—a statement he’s Read More »from As new library opens, Bush hopes for a reassessment of his legacy