Conservatives angry at Bush over his statement of regret

Bloggers on the right are attacking President Bush for not sticking to his guns on previous statements he'd made about the war in Iraq.

Published June 11, 2008 6:15PM (EDT)

Here's a conundrum for conservative bloggers: When you've spent years attacking most of the critics of any part of the prosecution of the war in Iraq, and attacking those who criticize President Bush on the issue, what do you do when Bush makes some limited criticism of himself? Apparently, the answer is that you just attack Bush for being insufficiently loyal ... to himself.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, in a recent interview with a British newspaper, Bush mentioned one regret he has about the war. "I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric," Bush said. Phrases like "bring them on" and "dead or alive," he said, "indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace."

Michelle Malkin was one very predictable source of indignation about this, and she played to type. Her post on the comments is titled "Bush Goes Mushy." In it, she quips, "He's putting the lame in lame duck."

Similarly indignant, if more strident, was Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs. Geller called Bush's interview "pathetic," wrote, "Memo to Bush: STFU" (her emphasis) and said, "Bush regrets his legacy as a 'man who wanted war?' ... It was not your legacy, it was al qaeda and company's legacy. Not aggressively defending ourselves is a moral depravity. Apologizing for defending this great nation is morally bankrupt."

At Contentions, a blog on the Web site of the neoconservative journal Commentary, Abe Greenwald wrote, "President Bush could not have picked a worse time to decide to soften his image. As Iran barrels towards full nuclear capability and as positive developments in the War on Terror shine a favorable light on the Bush Doctrine, we find the President at his most cuddly and contrite ...

"More troubling than Bush's regrets is his present conception of diplomacy in regard to Iran. It's as if he’s seeking to redeem himself by instituting a program of American humility."

And the bloggers at Powerline, who've previously gone a wee bit over the top in their admiration for Bush, were up in arms. The site's John Hinderaker referenced a comment he says former Sen. Rick Santorum made to him about the Bush administration having "battered President syndrome" and said, "Bush appears to have more or less internalized the criticisms that his enemies have lodged over the years ... Bush [repeated] one of the sillier attacks the left has launched on his Presidency." One of Hinderaker's co-bloggers, Paul Mirengoff, concurred, writing, "Bush seems determined to drive his approval rating down to roughly zero percent."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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