As someone who has taken a fair number of shots at President George W. Bush and the ineptitudes of his administration over the past eight years, I have to say that his morning news conference showed us the president at his very best: insightful, ingratiating, humorous, strong, defiant and seemingly quite at peace with the way history will present his presidency.

We also got a little news out of the president when he indicated that he would not be asking Congress for the remaining $350 billion in TARP bailout money unless President-elect Obama specifically asked him to.

Bush: I have talked to the president-elect about this subject. And I told him that if he felt that he needed the $350 billion, I would be willing to ask for it. In other words, if he felt like it needed to happen on my watch.

Question: So you haven't made a request yet?

Bush: Well, he hasn't asked me to make a request yet. And I don't intend to make a request unless he specifically asks me to make it.

So much for the “one-president-at-a-time” theory. Bush, clearly indicating that, although he still has the job until 11:59:59 a.m. on Jan. 20, he would defer to President-elect Obama on the matter.

If you missed the news conference, I highly recommend that you catch the re-air on C-SPAN. It might not change your mind on anything regarding the past eight years, but in less than an hour’s time, he laid out a strong case for how he views the world and a logic for why he did what he did while he occupied the highest office in the land.

Some Bush-isms of the day:

On Hamas/Israel/Gaza:
I'm for a sustainable cease-fire. And a definition of a sustainable cease-fire is that Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel. And there will not be a sustainable cease-fire if they continue firing rockets. I happen to believe the choice is Hamas's to make.

Regarding the news conference itself:
This is the ultimate exit interview.

Future of the GOP following November’s wipeout:
I remember the 1964 elections. My dad happened to be running for the United States Senate then, and, you know, got landslided with the Johnson landslide in the state of Texas. But it wasn't just George Bush who got defeated. The Republican Party was pretty well decimated at the time; at least that's what — I think that's how the pundits viewed it. And in '66 there was a resurgence. And the same thing can happen this time.

Best back and forth with a reporter:

Bush: Jake, yes? How you doing?

Jake Tapper/ABC: I'm good. How you doing, sir?

Bush: What have you been doing since 2000?


Tapper: Working my way to this chair.

Bush: So you going to be here for President Obama?

Tapper: I will.

Bush: It's a pretty cool job.

Tapper: It's not bad.

Bush: Yes.


Tapper: Yours might be better.


On the bailouts:
I readily concede I chunked aside some of my free-market principles when I was told by chief economic advisers that the situation we were facing could be worse than the Great Depression. So I've told some of my friends who've said — you know, who have taken an ideological position on this issue, you know, "Why'd you do what you did?" I said, "Well, if you were sitting there and heard that the depression could be greater than the Great Depression, I hope you would act too," which I did.

Plenty more, too. Whether you are a Bush basher or a loyalist, check out the C-SPAN website to find the next complete airing of the thing. Pull up a chair, grab a beverage, some popcorn, and watch the thing. At least among news junkies, this final Bush newser will be referenced for years to come.