Describing it as “the ultimate exit interview,” George Bush held his final press conference as president of the United States, sparring with reporters over the legacy of his eight years in office. At no point during the 45-minute session did anyone discuss what may be the greatest failure of his presidency: Bush’s steadfast denial, obstruction, and inaction in the face of the climate crisis.
The press conference was wide ranging, covering Israel, the Axis of Evil, trade agreements, Social Security, immigration policy, No Child Left Behind, and his disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush fluffed his image as a tough guy:
You know, presidents can try to avoid hard decisions, and therefore avoid controversy. That’s just not my nature. I’m the kind of person that, you know, is willing to take — to take on hard — hard tasks.
The sad reality is that Bush has done everything possible to avoid tackling global warming, instead following the marching orders of industrial polluters. His tenure will go down in history as eight lost years in the fight to rein in global warming pollution and preserve our civilization. Each day, it becomes apparent those were years we could not afford to waste. From today’s papers come reports that “yields of staple crops such as rice and corn could fall by 20 percent to 40 percent by the end of the century,” putting hundreds of millions of people at risk of chronic food shortages, “the ocean could rise in the next 100 years to a meter higher than the current sea level,” and that the world’s oceans are beginning to absorb less global warming pollution, even as global emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise.
Building a clean energy economy is the kind of “hard task” that requires the leadership and will Bush utterly lacks. By similarly ignoring this issue, the White House press corps has also failed the American people. However, Bush did get in his assessment of his tenure in the Oval Office: “We had fun.”