UPDATE: ‘Wash Post’ and ‘NYT’ Get Excerpts from Bush Book

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By: E&P Staff

In an arrangement with the author, The New York Times published on Sunday excerpts from interviews with President Bush for a book to be published on Tuesday. Portions of the transcript offer off-the-cuff looks at how the president views his life after office and how his actions in Iraq will be viewed.

The interviews took place since last December for a book by Texas writer Robert Draper called “Dead Certain.”

The Washington Post on Monday follows with its own revelations from the book. “In recounting this and other controversies of Bush’s tenure, Draper offers an intimate portrait of a White House racked by more infighting than is commonly portrayed and of a president who would, alternately, intensely review speeches line by line or act strangely disengaged from big issues,” the Post notes.

The paper also reveals: “Draper writes that Bush was ‘gassed’ after an 80-minute bike ride at his Crawford, Tex., ranch on the day before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and was largely silent during a subsequent video briefing from then-FEMA director Michael D. Brown and other top officials making preparations for the storm.”

The book also suggests that Karl Rove argued against picking Dick Cheney as vice president, and that the Secret Service spends an “inordinate” amount of time planning Bush’s biking trails, according to the Post.

The Times had noted that Bush, asked about life after leaving office, told Draper, ?I?ll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol? coffers.? Bush added, ?I don?t know what my dad gets ? it?s more than 50-75? thousand dollars a speech, and ?Clinton?s making a lot of money.?

He also said that he hoped things in Iraq will improve enough so that his successor will “be comfortable about sustaining a presence,? and, he said later, ?stay longer.?

Draper?s grandfather, Leon Jaworski, was a special prosecutor in the Watergate scandal.

One of the most revealing moments, regarding Iraq, is recounted by the Times as follows.

He said he saw his unpopularity as a natural result of his decision to pursue a strategy in which he believed. ?I made a decision to lead,? he said, ?One, it makes you unpopular; two, it makes people accuse you of unilateral arrogance, and that may be true. But the fundamental question is, is the world better off as a result of your leadership??

Mr. Bush has often said that will be for historians decide, but he said during his sessions with Mr. Draper that they would have to consult administration documents to get to the bottom of some important questions.

Mr. Bush acknowledged one major failing of the early occupation of Iraq when he said of disbanding the Saddam Hussein-era military, ?The policy was to keep the army intact; didn?t happen.?

But when Mr. Draper pointed out that Mr. Bush?s former Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, had gone ahead and forced the army?s dissolution and then asked Mr. Bush how he reacted to that, Mr. Bush said, ?Yeah, I can?t remember, I?m sure I said, ?This is the policy, what happened?? ? But, he added, ?Again, Hadley?s got notes on all of this stuff,? referring to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser.

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