9 Presidents Who Admitted Their Greatest Regrets

Posted: May 30, 2017 in History, Politics, Things I Love
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Ever notice how our President’s age during their time in office? You can see it on President Trump already. Hair goes gray and they seem to age abnormally quickly. It’s the pressure, man. It’s more pressure than any human on earth faces. I mean, basically the fate of the entire world hinges on the decisions you make. That said, a few presidents have admitted their greatest presidential regrets. Read on to find out what they are . . .

George W. Bush – The War in Iraq

When asked in a 2008 interview about his biggest regret as president, George W. Bush surprisingly listed the Iraq War. While he did not regret everything that occurred in Iraq, the president seemed distraught over intelligence failures. He claimed this was the biggest regret of his presidency, stating, “I wish the intelligence had been different, and better, I guess.”

Bush denied accusations that his administration had intentionally misled Congress. He noted members of Congress read all the same reports his staff did and still decided to go forward with the invasion. He was disappointed things in Iraq did not go as planned, and that they didn’t find any “weapons of mass destruction.”

John Quincy Adams –  His Treatment Of Native Americans

When John Quincy Adams took office, the Indian Springs Treaty was waiting on his desk. The treaty forced the Creek Nation, living in what is now Georgia, to give up their land and move west. As Congress had already voted in favor of the treaty, Adams signed it as soon as he took office. It was an act he regretted almost immediately.

Leaders of the Creek Nation met with Adams, changing his views on the nation’s treatment of its Native American populations. Adams tried to annul the treaty, but his attempts were blocked by Congress and the state of Georgia threatened military action. While a new treaty was eventually drafted, the Creek Nation still had to cede two-thirds of their land to Georgia. A third treaty, passed a year later, forced the Creek Nation to give up all remaining land.

Adams both regretted the Indian Springs Treaty and the nation’s treatment of Native Americans overall. He would go on to write about this in his personal diary. “We have talked of benevolence and humanity, and preached them into civilization, but none of this benevolence is felt where the right of the Indian comes in collision with the interest of the white man.” Sadly, his time in the White House would forever be judged by his poor treatment of Native Americans.

George H.W. Bush – Not Taking Out Saddam Hussein

Had George H.W. Bush succeeded in getting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein out of power, perhaps the Second Iraq War could have been avoided. Bush regretted not continuing with action in Iraq until Hussein surrendered. He believed, had the Gulf War gone on longer, Hussein could have been removed from power.

Apparently an FBI agent told Bush that he was certain Hussein would have eventually surrendered had military action continued. While Bush still considers the ending of the Gulf War a military success, he regrets it did not have a better, more final conclusion. He feels that had he forced Hussein into surrendering, the later troubles his son faced in Iraq could have been avoided.

Barack Obama – His Handling Of Libya
In 2011, Obama helped remove Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power. While he knew intervening was the right decision, he regrets his lack of a follow-up plan. Libya was thrown into turmoil after Gaddafi’s removal, and the country is still recovering today.

Obama said in an interview that his failure to plan for the day after the intervention was his worst mistake as president.

Bill Clinton – Not Bringing Peace To The Middle East

Nope, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment threat was not Bill Clinton’s biggest regret as president. Clinton was actually more concerned with his handling of conflict in the Middle East. When asked about his biggest regret as president, he said he wished he had done more to smooth over tensions between Israel and Palestine.

My number one regret is that I was not able to persuade Yasser Arafat to accept the peace plan I offered at the end of my presidency,” Clinton said. Clinton believes, had Arafat accepted the terms of the agreement, he could have spent the coming years making progress towards peace in Israel.

Dwight Eisenhower – His Own Supreme Court Pick

When Dwight D. Eisenhower originally appointed Earl Warren as a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he was confident in his decision. He stated Warren had the kind of political, economic, and social thinking the country needed. However, after Warren led the court in a series of liberal decisions, the conservative Eisenhower’s feelings towards him soured. Eisenhower would go on to call the appointment the “biggest damned-fool mistake I ever made.

Jimmy Carter – His Handling Of The Iran Hostage Crisis

No shocker here. Most historians feel that, had Carter handled the Iran Hostage Crisis in a more timely fashion, he would have been elected for a second term. Carter apparently agrees. In an interview in 2015, Carter admitted he wished he had sent more helicopters in sooner to remove the 52 American diplomats and citizens that were held hostage in Iran for 444 days starting in November of 1979.

Carter said, “I wish I had one more helicopter to get the hostages, and had we rescued them I’d have been re-elected.”

Richard Nixon – Delaying The Vietnam Bombings
Watergate seems like it would be the biggest regret for Richard Nixon, but he apparently felt the scandal that cost him the presidency was not his worst fumble. In a Meet The Press interview, Nixon claimed that delaying the bombing of North Vietnam was his biggest regret as president. Nixon hit Vietnam with bombs in 1972, but wishes he had taken action as early as 1969.

“I talked to Henry Kissinger about it,” Nixon says, “But we were stuck with the bombing halt that we had inherited from the Johnson administration.

Nixon believes had the bombings occurred sooner, the Vietnam War would have wrapped up in 1969 rather than 1972. When asked about the Watergate Scandal, Nixon felt the matter was small in comparison to his mishandling of Vietnam.

George Washington – Owning Slaves

George Washington became a slave owner at the age of 11 and remained that way throughout the course of his presidency. During his era, many felt slavery was simply a way of life. As Washington aged, however, his view of slavery changed. Late in his life, he claimed slavery was “the only avoidable subject of regret” during the course of his lifetime.

So there ya go. Presidential regrets. Bet ya never thought you’d know this information when you woke up this morning, huh? Shoe: Untied is here for ya, kids.

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