During a prime time press conference on April 13, President Bush was asked to name a mistake that he has made since taking office and what he has learned from it. Bush, who was unable to answer the question, admitted “maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with [a mistake].” But weeks later, Bush still hasn’t answered the question. In the interest of assisting the President with this surprisingly difficult task we’ve compiled this list of 100 mistakes he has made since taking office:
1. Failing to build a real international coalition prior to the Iraq invasion, forcing the US to shoulder the full cost and consequences of the war.
2. Approving the demobilization of the Iraqi Army in May, 2003 – bypassing the Joint Chiefs of Staff and reversing an earlier position, the President left hundreds of thousands of armed Iraqis disgruntled and unemployed, contributing significantly to the massive security problems American troops have faced during occupation.
4. Ignoring the advice Gen. Eric Shinseki regarding the need for more troops in Iraq – now Bush is belatedly adding troops, having allowed the security situation to deteriorate in exactly the way Shinseki said it would if there were not enough troops.
5. Ignoring plans drawn up by the Army War College and other war-planning agencies, which predicted most of the worst security and infrastructure problems America faced in the early days of the Iraq occupation.
9. Predicting Iraq would pay for its own reconstruction.
10. Wildly underestimating the cost of the war.
11. Trusting Ahmed Chalabi, who has dismissed faulty intelligence he provided the President as necessary for getting the Americans to topple Saddam.
12. Disbanding the Sunni Baathist managers responsible for Iraq’s water, electricity, sewer system and all the other critical parts of that country’s infrastructure.
13. Failing to give UN weapons inspectors enough time to certify if weapons existed in Iraq.
15. Announcing that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended” aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, below a “Mission Accomplished” banner – more U.S. soldiers have died in combat since Bush’s announcement than before it.
17. Refusing to cede any control of Post-invasion Iraq to the international community, meaning reconstruction has received limited aid from European allies or the U.N.
18. Failing to convince NATO allies why invading Iraq was important.
19. Having no real plan for the occupation of Iraq.
21. Diverting $700 million into Iraq invasion planning without informing Congress.
22. Shutting down an Iraqi newspaper for “inciting violence” – the move, which led in short order to street fighting in Fallujah, incited more violence than the newspaper ever had.
23. Telling Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan about plans to go to war with Iraq before Secretary of State Colin Powell.
24. Allowing several members of the Bin Laden family to leave the country just days after 9/11, some of them without being questioned by the FBI.
26. Thinking al Qaeda could not attack without state sponsors, and ignoring evidence of a growing threat unassociated with “rogue states” like Iraq or North Korea.
27. Threatening to veto the Homeland Security department – The President now concedes such a department “provides the ability for our agencies to coordinate better and to work together better than it was before.”
29. Denying documents to the 9/11 commission, only relenting after the commissioners threatened a subpoena.
30. Failing to pay more attention to an August 6, 2001 PDB entitled “Bin laden Determined to Attack in U.S.”
31. Repeatedly ignoring warnings of terrorists planning to use aircraft before 9/11.
32. Appointing the ultra-secretive Henry Kissinger to head the 9/11 commission – Kissinger stepped down weeks later due to conflicts of interest.
35. Cutting an FBI request for counterterrorism funds by two-thirds after 9/11.
36. Telling Americans there was a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
37. Failing to adequately secure the nation’s nuclear weapons labs.
38. Not feeling a sense of urgency about terrorism or al Qaeda before 9/11.
40. Not providing security in Afghanistan outside of Kabul, leaving nearly 80% of the Afghan population unprotected in areas controlled by Feudal warlords and local militias.
41. Committing inadequate resources for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
42. Counting too heavily on locally trained troops to fill the void in Afghanistan once U.S. forces were relocated to Iraq.
43. Not committing US ground troops to the capture of Osama Bin Laden, when he was cornered in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in November, 2001.
44. Allowing opium production to resume on a massive scale after the ouster of the Taliban.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
45. Opposing an independent inquiry into the intelligence failures surrounding WMD – later, upon signing off on just such a commission, Bush claimed he was “determined to make sure that American intelligence is as accurate as possible for every challenge in the future.”
46. Saying: “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.”
48. Spending $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons this year to develop new nuclear weapons this year – 50% more in real dollars than the average during the cold war – while shortchanging the troops on body armor.
49. Ignoring the importance of the Middle East peace process, which has deteriorated with little oversight or strategy evident in the region.
50. Siding with China in February, 2004 against a democratic referenda proposed by Taiwan, a notable shift from an earlier pledge to stand with “oppressed peoples until the day of their freedom finally arrives.”
51. Undermining the War on Terrorism by preemptively invading Iraq.
52. Failing to develop a specific plan for dealing with North Korea.
53. Abandoning the United States’ traditional role as an evenhanded negotiator in the Middle East peace process.
54. Signing a report endorsing outsourcing with thousands of American workers having their jobs shipped overseas.
55. Instituting steel tariffs deemed illegal by the World Trade Organization – Bush repealed them 20-months later when the European Union pledged to impose retaliatory sanctions on up to $2.2 billion in exports from the United States.
56. Promoting economic policies that failed to create new jobs.
57. Promoting economic policies that failed to help small businesses
58. Pledging a “jobs and growth” package would create 1,836,000 new jobs by the end of 2003 and 5.5 million new jobs by 2004—so far the president has fallen 1,615,000 jobs short of the mark.
59. Running up a foreign deficit of “such record-breaking proportions that it threatens the financial stability of the global economy.”
60. Issuing inaccurate budget forecasts accompanying proposals to reduce the deficit, omitting the continued costs of Iraq, Afghanistan and elements of Homeland Security.
61. Claiming his 2003 tax cut would give 23 million small business owners an average tax cut of $2,042 when “nearly four out of every five tax filers (79%) with small business income would receive less” than that amount.
63. Passing successive tax cuts largely responsible for turning a projected surplus of $5 trillion into a projected deficit of $4.3 trillion.
64. Moving to strip millions of overtime pay.
65. Not enforcing corporate tax laws.
66. Backing down from a plan to make CEOs more accountable when “the corporate crowd” protested.
67. Not lobbying oil cartels to change their mind about cutting oil production.
68. Passing tax cuts weighted heavily to help the wealthy.
69. Moving to allow greater media consolidation.
70. Nominating a notorious proponent of outsourcing, Anthony F. Raimondo, to be the new manufacturing Czar—Raimondo withdrew his name days later amidst a flurry of harsh criticism.
71. Ignoring calls to extend unemployment benefits with long-term unemployment reaching a twenty-year high
72. Threatening to veto pension legislation that would give companies much needed temporary relief.
73. Under-funding No Child Left Behind
74. Breaking his campaign pledge to increase the size of Pell grants.
75. Signing off on an FY 2005 budget proposing the smallest increase in education funding in nine years.
76. Under-funding the Title I Program, specifically targeted for disadvantaged kids, by $7.2 billion.
77. Freezing Teacher Quality State Grants, cutting off training opportunities for about 30,000 teachers, and leaving 92,000 less
teachers trained than the president called for in his own No Child Left Behind bill.
78. Freezing funding for English language training programs.
79. Freezing funding for after school programs, potentially eliminating 50,000 children from after-school programs.
80. Not leveling with Americans about the cost of Medicare – the president told Congress his new Medicare bill would cost $400 billion over ten years despite conclusions by his own analysts the bill would cost upwards of $500 billion over that period.
81. Silencing Medicare actuary Richard Foster when his estimates for the Administration’s Medicare bill were too high.
82. Letting business associate David Halbert, who owns a company which stands to make millions from new discount drug cards, craft key elements of the new Medicare bill.
84. Allowing loopholes to persist in Mad-Cow regulations.
85. Relaxing food labeling restrictions on health claims.
86. Falsely claiming the restrictions on stem cell research would not hamper medical progress.
87. Reducing action against improper drug advertising by 80 percent.
88. Abandoning the Kyoto Treaty without offering an alternative for reducing greenhouse effect.
89. Counting on a voluntary program to reduce emissions of harmful gasses—so far only a tiny fraction of American companies have signed up.
90. Gutting clean air standards for aging power plants.
91. Weakening energy efficiency standards.
92. Relaxing dumping standards for mountaintop mining, and opening the Florida Everglades and Oregon’s Siskiyou National Forest to mining.
93. Lifting protection for more than 200 million acres of public land.
94. Limiting public challenges to logging projects and increased logging in protected areas, including Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.
95. Weakening environmental standards for snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles while pushing for exemptions for air pollution proposals for five categories of industrial facilities.
96. Opposing legislation that would require greater fuel efficiency for passenger cars.
97. Reducing inspections, penalties for violations, and prosecution of environmental crimes.
98. Misleading the public about the Washington mad cow case and the likely effectiveness of USDA’s weak testing program.
99. Withdrawing public information on chemical plant dangers, previously used to hold facilities accountable for safety improvements.
100. Cutting grants to state and local governments in FY 2005, forcing states to make massive cuts in job training, education, housing and environment.