George W. Bush is so unpopular in Europe, nobody's even taking time out of their day to protest during his visit. He's a non-event. Our Portuguese cab driver carped about the rising price of fuel, holding Bush responsible. Maybe we can't blame everything on our tragically misguided president, but this week he broke with tradition by telling The London Times that though he has no regrets about the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, "I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric." He conceded that phrases like "bring them on" and "dead or alive" had given the impression he was "not a man of peace."
This admission is an anomaly, coming from a man who takes pride in being neither reflective nor repentant. He's refused to be accountable, abused the power of the office and seemingly believed (a word he now owns) that he could convince us we're wrong to be frightened by his administration, the war and the economy.
With 221 days remaining of his regrettable, two-term presidency, he's changed direction to emphasize diplomacy over military force. Hey, Mr. Prez, try this on: too little, too late. The damage is done. People everywhere are on to you. Someone else will have to mop up what you've done.
Until now, there's never been a thing about Bush I could relate to, but his regret about, "Bring them on" caused me to wince with recognition. I, too, am faced with the consequences of having said, "Bring them on" -- at every opportunity, to every waiter in every European restaurant we went to. Like W, I know, all too well, the consequences of not having shown judgment and restraint. The difference is my watch isn't ending and I'm the one who will have to do the crunches.