National Opinions

Philadelphia Inquirer: A strained defense

In his final news confer- ence, President Bush on Monday took on a task that some might call an impossible mission -- de- fending his administration.

Maybe he needed Jack Bauer.

Even as Bush spoke, headlines in the Washing- ton Post blared that he had presided over the weakest eight-year span for the U.S. economy in decades. Of course, you can't blame the recession totally on Bush. But nei- ther can the economic policies of his administr- ation be absolved of any responsibility for the situation.

From jobs creation to the gross domestic pro- duct, the Bush years' num- bers have lagged, growing in such lackluster incre- ments that you would have to go back to the Truman administration or before to find a similar performance.

Bush and Congress both get failing grades for leaving unsolved the funding problems of Social Security and Medicare, entitlements that face huge deficits. The presi- dent did propose a sweep- ing overhaul of the federal tax code, but never push- ed hard enough to get it passed.

In his news conference, Bush became visibly upset when asked whether America's moral standing in the world had suffered during the Iraq war. "Most people around the world respect America," he said, adding that maybe some elites in Europe felt that way, but not the people he had met in Africa or Asia.

The remark was hardly comforting when one con- siders how often human rights are trampled upon in those two continents.

Bush is trying to put his spin on all that occurred during his presidency. Nothing unusual about that. His memoir will un- doubtedly be a best-seller because the public craves his perspective. What it doesn't want, however, is fiction. And his depiction of some events must be summed up as denials of the truth.

As a Bible believer, the president should know what Jesus said in John 8:32: "The truth shall make you free."