No one is perfect. That is true for your spouse, your children, your mom, and (look in the mirror) even yourself.
While we readily recognize and accept the flaws and frailties of those closest to us, somehow we expect that the person we elect to be president of the United States will live up to all our grandiose expectations and we are shocked when we discover that he is a mere mortal.
That said, I say goodbye to President George W. Bush with a lot of mixed emotions.
To be honest, I didn’t expect a lot from this man. He had run two companies into the ground and rode his father’s coattails to become governor of the state of Texas. Surely, the country could do better!
I was pleasantly surprised on many levels.
The 2000 election was so close that Bush literally backed into office without the usual amount of time one needs to assume the office of president with a team in place. Nevertheless, he was tested on 9-11-2001, as no other American president has been, and he met that test, head-on, with strength and resolve.
Nineteen days later, one day after Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that new terrorist attacks may be planned for the country in the coming week, President Bush showed unusual courage when he made good on his promise to throw out the first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium in New York.
The country was gripped with fear. We had battened down the hatches. Travel plans were canceled and shopping trips minimized.
I will never forget the night of October 30, 2001, when Mr. Bush, wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with “FDNY,” in honor of the New York City Fire Department, strolled resolutely to the pitcher’s mound. Yes, security was tight, but he was alone under the glaring lights, before a sellout crowd of more than 57,000 people, an easy target. How many presidents would have done that? Most would have stayed behind layers of security in the bunker.
Bush, looking small and vulnerable scanned the upper decks. He paused and smiled and gave a big “thumbs-up” sign to reassure the crowd, before throwing a strike. Then, he walked off the mound to chants of “USA, USA” and the country slowly got back to normal.
At that time, no one could foresee that we would get through the next seven years without another major terrorist attack on our soil. At that time, the only question was “where” and “when.”
Bush deserves a lot of credit for keeping us safe. Could he have done more? Of course. One can always do more, but no one outside of his inner circle knows the extent of what he did do for this country.
In this case, no news was good news! How soon we forget.
Osama bin Laden and his radical followers see a world ruled by the defenders of Islam and they are willing to die to make that happen. They see the “final phase” of their struggle with “the infidels” with the two superpowers: Russia and the United States.
After the Russians were driven out of Afghanistan, bin Laden boldly proclaimed, “Now we have defeated and destroyed the more difficult and the more dangerous of the two. Dealing with the pampered and effeminate Americans will be easy.”
In the 1990s, bin Laden proceeded to prove his theory. His attacks on our embassies, ships and barracks produced nothing more than angry rhetoric from the Clinton Administration and a few misdirected missiles to uninhabited places.
Not surprising, on 9-1l, bin Laden took his jihad into the enemy camp and prepared for a final victory. The resolve of George W. Bush was a shocking surprise.
Historians will debate whether we should have gone into Iraq and the level of Saddam Hussein’s involvement. Let us not forget that, based on the intelligence we had at the time, it was the right thing to do. Also, bear in mind, it was the Clinton Administration that weakened our intelligence gathering capabilities.
We can only hope that those lessons are not lost on the president-elect and the people that he has chosen to protect us for the next four years.
Was I pleased with everything George W. Bush did in his eight years in office? Not at all. His spending, his immigration policy and his expansion of the federal bureaucracy hurt the Republican Party and the effects will be felt for years to come.
Nevertheless, as I say goodbye to this president, I can only hope that Barack Obama will do as well.
Certainly, he can do a lot worse than George W. Bush.