Bush Says Goodbye, Media Loses Target No. 1

BlogHer Original Post

I'm not going to mince words: I like George W. Bush. I think the rabid hatred of the man pushed the mercury from ridiculous to scary at times. I stood back in silent amusement when watching those whose claim to fame is preaching tolerance but sadly demonstrated anything but when discussing him. I understand that there are people who dislike Bush just as there are people who dislike Obama. Dislike! Weird common ground, but I'll take it.

I realize that there exist some who do not share my perspective. That's not what this post is about. This post is for the conservatives, for those who looked beyond his hanging effigy in street protests, the merchandise defaming him, the massive spin regarding Iraq.

When I look at Bush, I see a man who liberated millions of people. Many remark about women's rights yet ironically say little about the women who were regularly beaten, stoned, raped, and murdered in Iraqi streets under the regime of a brutal dictator. Women who weren't allowed to vote, much less of holding government offices, which they are now doing.

I see a man who removed a murdering tyrant from power, who chased him into a hole in the ground and crippled the Al Qaida organization to little more than a convoy hiding in caves throughout the desert.

I see a man who saw through a surge that is now only acknowledged and embraced after its success. The President showed courage in the face of tyranny; he did not waver in his decisions, even as dangerously ambitious Republican officials nipped at his heels, more concerned over keeping their seats and congressional pensions than stopping further genocide.

Bush worked with a plethora of leaders to form an alliance to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both Tony Blair and Nicholas Sarkozy admire and respect him; even Vladimir Putin, it was rumored, watched the 2005 elections intently and when Bush won it was said that Putin was unhappy. Considering whose interests Putin has at heart, I'd have worried if he was happy.

I did not vote for Bush in 2001. I did not think he was what this country needed. Shortly thereafter, we were savagely attacked on our own soil. Thousands were killed, buildings toppled and the economy stuttered. Regardless what you think of the man, Bush led our country through one of the darkest periods of its history. Come hell or high water, he refused to allow another attack on this country's shores and he succeeded. He made a promise to keep us safe and he kept it. Meanwhile, other countries, like Spain, were bullied and buckled to the will of terrorists, going so far as allowing them to influence their elections.

Despite this remarkable leadership, Bush barely used this for campaign purposes. It both astonished and impressed me.

Bush understood the importance of national security and of keeping America's citizens safe. Since Lincoln is a hot topic as of late, The Weekly Standard made this BRILLIANT point with regards to presidential power and congressional authority. The article noted Lincoln's response to Chief Justice Roger Taney, wherein he defended his suspension of habeas corpus:

"Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?" Lincoln asked.

The Weekly Standard answers:

Bush understood the answer in wartime had to be no.

(Even Clinton/Gore knew the answer.)

Bush's tax cuts of two years ago, which met criticism, helped to prevent out economy from collapsing. Yes, had we not had a sound economy, it would have collapsed.

He has done more to help than any other president in the history of this country - or current leaders around the world, concerning the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Bob Geldof gave praise.

I admired the President's faith. Whatever he may have been in his youth, and we all, myself included, are imperfect, he has developed a wonderful faith and compassion.

Bush faced off against the department of education with NCLB. He reached across the aisle and worked together with Teddy Kennedy. Granted, I did not agree with NCLB - I liked that it forced testing and accountability and more local control, however, it was a band-aid to a deeper problem. (It was also not underfunded; we spend more of our GDP - gross domestic product - on education than anything else.)

One of my biggest complaints is that Bush did not speak out against his critics who filled the discourse left by his silence with erroneous spin.

He was genuine. I had the privilege of dining with him and hearing him speak at a fundraiser last fall. It was right after the vote on Wall Street bailout, which I was against. In the audience were several members of congress who had gone against the president, including Todd Aikn. The room was thick with unease until Bush grinned, chuckled and joked with Sen. and Mrs. Akin about how he was sorry that he kept him late at work. The tension broke into laughter. Bush spoke without aid of a teleprompter or notes. He apologized, even though the blame is not his if you know economics, for all of us being in this mess and how he was going to do his best to make it easier. He wasn't flashy but he was frustrated, frustrated at the mess and over how many were ignoring the very thing that caused it.

It was the second time I'd seen him in person during his presidency and I knew it would be the last while his address was 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

There are many, numerous stories of his private meetings with families of fallen soldiers (or how he's personally written thousands of letters to those families); or of his compassion towards those who lost loved ones in 9/11, like Ashley Faulker. The photo that accompanies that story is remarkable.

We can disagree with him because we have that freedom. We can protest in the streets because we were kept safe.

When he gave his farewell address, he had the exhausted look of someone who had just finished a grueling work week but was happy that it was over. The presidency ages you, changes you. Compare the before and after photos of past presidents for that shocking realization. Some say Bush was trying to direct the path of his legacy with his address; I disagree. I think he was reminding people of what was before it is rewritten. Ann Althouse says that Barack Obama and the Democrats will shape Bush's legacy, but not in the way you may think. I completely agree. Definitive reading.

Reagan was a hated man in his time. Only in death was he immortalized and were the success of his policies acknowledged. I hope Bush doesn't have to wait that long.

P.S. Kathy Shaidle asks if the stupid jokes will be over soon?

*UPDATE: The Anchoress has a great compendium of Bush exit links. Kim at Wizbang also has a fabulous round-up.

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