Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Portrait of a Man Defined by His Wars

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"......Seven years later, as he sat for a final interview, President Bush remained a man of few doubts, still following his gut, convinced that the paths he chose in Afghanistan and Iraq were right. But in important ways, he was a different man entirely. It was more than the inevitable aging, more than the grayer hair, more than the deeper lines in his face or the noticeable paunch or the occasional slouching in his chair. During the first years of the Iraq war, the president spoke about "winning," or "victory." By May 2008, he had tempered his rhetoric. Twice in the last interview, he mentioned "win," then immediately corrected himself and substituted "succeed," a subtle but unmistakable scaling back that reflected the murky realities of a war with no foreseeable end......

As the Bush presidency becomes history, the wars he began will become part of another president's story. "There's going to be a new president-elect who will come in here," I said in our final interview. "Not as a Democrat or a Republican, but as the president, what are you going to say to the new leader about what you are handing off in Iraq?"

Bush thought about it for a moment. His answer seemed to reflect his revised expectations. "What I'll say is, 'Don't let it fail.' ""

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