Jacob Heilbrunn

George W. Bush Is A Crybaby

President Bush's memoir is intended to burnish his reputation. But having him out on the hustings once again may not quite be working as he had hoped. Though the release of his memoir Decision Points had been delayed until after the midterm elections, his reemergence may be premature. The wounds of Iraq are too raw, the economic damage caused by his administration too palpable, for him to begin his rehabilitation tour after a mere two years.

The truth about his presidency continues to catch up to him, and his memoir may actually be aiding the process. A small instance. In his memoir Bush says that former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder promised him full support for a war on Iraq when they met on January 31, 2002 at the White House. Schroeder says it ain't so: "Bush isn't telling the truth." Now several senior German diplomats, including former ambassador to the United States Wolfgang Ischinger, are backing up Schroeder's version. Ischinger told the Berlin Tagesspiegel: "No one could have interpreted the talks as a blank check for military action against Iraq." Ischinger is a cautious, sober diplomat; it's inconceivable to me that he would misrepresent this episode. Furthermore, Schroeder himself says that he only promised to support an attack on Iraq, as he did against Afghanistan, if supplied with evidence that Saddam Hussein was aiding al-Qaeda.

The truly interesting thing about this episode is that it shows how peevish, how easily nettled Bush can become. Why is he trying to settle scores with Schroeder years later? Because he's a crybaby.

Schroeder, who ran for and won reelection in September 2002 by denouncing the looming Iraq War to a German public that was overwhelmingly opposed to it and Bush, clearly got under Bush's skin. Bush tried to exact vengeance by distorting the historical record. But he only ended up providing a reminder of his administration's mendacity when it came to leading America into an unprovoked and catastrophic war of choice.

Schroeder, to his credit, isn't taking Bush's lies lying down. He's fighting back and calling him out, just as he did in 2002.