Opinion: Bush reveals his biggest disappointment

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President Bush went on the new Fox Business Network a few minutes ago with David Asman, and in a discussion on a wide range of issues such as Pakistan and Medicare, revealed what his biggest disappointment as president is:

Not getting a Social Security reform package. ‘That truly is the big deficit issue,’ the president said. ‘I’m sorry it didn’t happen. I laid out a plan to make it happen, to enable it to happen. I’m the first president to have addressed it as specifically as I did. I wish Congress wasn’t so risk-averse on the issue.’

On Iraq, what does he think when he hears Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say the war is lost? ‘Well, I was saddened when I heard that,’ Bush replied. ‘Because you’ve got kids in harm’s way who are risking their lives. And leaders have got to be very careful about the words they use. We don’t want somebody out there risking their life thinking that it’s not worth it.

‘After all, these kids volunteered knowing full well that it’s best to defeat an enemy overseas so we don’t have to face them home -- here at home -- and also understanding that, you know, the way to defeat an ideology of hate, an ideology of darkness, is with an ideology based upon hope, and that’s freedom.’


On Pakistan and President Pervez Musharraf: ‘When I talked to him, I said, ‘You got to get Pakistan back on the road to democracy as quickly as possible.’ And that means elections, and that means that, in my judgment, the road to democracy means you can’t be the head of the military and the president at the same time. He’s agreed to hold elections in January, and he’s agreed to take his uniform off. And our judgment is, is that the sooner he can suspend his emergency decree, the faster Pakistan gets back on the road to democracy....

‘Our purpose, of course, is to promote a democracy in Pakistan, and at the same time as a valuable ally in fighting the extremists, who have tried to kill President Musharraf three or four times. He understands the stakes of the war, and I do believe he understands the importance of democracy.’

On the mortgage crunch: ‘The federal government should help people renegotiate loans by encouraging the nonprofit NGOs to reach out to those who have had these adjustable-rate mortgages to explain ...

... to them that there’s an opportunity to refinance their homes if they’re creditworthy. Secondly, the federal government ought to change tax policy that says if you renegotiate your loan, you get paid -- you have to pay an extra tax. Loan forgiveness through renegotiation is a taxable event. If you’re trying to help people stay in their homes, you shouldn’t be taxing them when they renegotiate their mortgage.

‘Thirdly, we ought to modernize FHA, the Federal Housing Authority, so that people who qualify are able to get help in refinancing their mortgages. Look, we have to do everything we can to help people stay in their homes without bailing out lenders.’

And what about his most satisfying presidential achievement?: ‘I would say the advance of liberty. The working hard to secure the homeland from attack, putting in place, you know, tools necessary to protect us, and at the same time be strong in the advancement of liberty as a great alternative to an ideology of hate.’

The interview will be broadcast at 4 p.m. Pacific on FBN.

-- Andrew Malcolm