Regrets? I've Quite a Few, Admits Bush; Candid: George Bush Yesterday
Byline: DAVID GARDNER
FOR eight years his verbal slipups have appalled and amused in equal measure.
Yesterday, with an eloquent successor waiting in the wings, George Bush couldn't resist one last 'Bushism'.
At his final White House press conference, the outgoing U.S. President told journalists: 'Sometimes you misunderestimated me.'
He was poking fun at himself, his words recalling a celebrated slip from his first years in office.
But the mood turned more serious as an unusually-candid Mr Bush listed the mistakes and major disappointments of his presidency.
In what he called his 'ultimate exit interview', a week before he leaves office, he conceded that the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a 'significant disappointment'. The accusation that Saddam Hussein had WMDs was the main justification offered by Mr Bush and Tony Blair for invading Iraq in 2003.
The President also admitted another miscalculation over the war, which has caused the deaths of more than 4,000 American troops. Less than two months after it started he claimed that the allies had prevailed, a boast made under a 'Mission Accompeople's plished' banner that turned out to be wildly optimistic. 'Clearly, putting "Mission Accomplished" on an aircraft carrier was a mistake,' he said.
Mr Bush admitted 'some of my rhetoric' has been illadvised - he has been widely criticised for using the phrase 'dead or alive' and proclaiming 'Bring it on!' to terrorists.
But he angrily denied his presidency had bruised America's image abroad. 'I disagree with this assessment that, you know, that people view America in a dim light,' he said.
Mr Bush hit back at critics who said he bungled the response to Hurricane Katrina. …