Sometimes when I watch a speech, see an item on the news or read something on the web, an idea hits me and I feel “compelled” to blog on it.Â Other times, an idea steeps over time (as with my points on Bush’s mistakes).
And then there are times, when as a blogger, I write about something because my readers expect me to do just that.Â I doubt I would have watched the presidential debates last fall had I not felt obligated to y’all to comment on these exchanges.
Tonight, however, I watched the president’s Farewell Address not because I felt obligated to, but because I wanted to.Â I was curious to see how he would defend a tenure where he has had some remarkable successes and made some serious mistakes.
As our nation is about to inaugurate its first African-American president, it is interesting that two of the four men outgoing president singled out at the conclusion of his address are black.Â Â Another is Hispanic.
And Bush began his final speech as president by offering kind words for his successor: “Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose story reflects the enduring promise of our land.Â This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole Nation.”Â It is indeed a moment of pride for our nation which once allowed the enslavement — and later sanctioned the discrimination — of individuals of African heritage.Â Black slaves once built the White House.Â Now, a black man will live there.
The president focused on his record in keeping us safe.Â He cited the emerging democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan.Â While he acknowledges there can be “legitimate debate” about many of the decisions he made
. . . there can be little debate about the results.Â America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil.Â This is a tribute to those who toil night and day and night to keep us safe â€” law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts, homeland security and diplomatic personnel, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
Note his grace in praising those who carried out his policies. He devoted a considerable amount of time to talking about the promise and meaning of America, contrasting our “guiding principles” with the ideology of our opponents in the current global struggle, our system “based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.”
Liberty, freedom. George W. Bush understands our founding ideal.
I will miss the moral clarity of his speeches on the War on Terror. Would it that he had delivered such addreses more often.
He noted another of his great achievements, the appointment of “Justice Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.”
While we may fault the President for not holding the line on federal spending, we must commend him for keeping our nation safe. He’s right when he says:
While our Nation is safer than it was seven years ago, the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack. Our enemies are patient and determined to strike again. America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.
Let’s hope his successor takes those words to heart.
Note again how little he praises himself, but instead focuses on the condition of the nation he leaves to his successor.
So, what will George W. Bush’s legacy be? It’s far too soon to tell. Given the attacks of 9/11 and the global struggle against Islamofascism, his may turn out to be one of the most consequential Administrations in our history. I expect he’ll rank somewhere in the middle of US presidents, but only when the passions and disappointments of these past few years fade will we be able to find a true measure of his success.
But, for now, we know that he kept us safe. And that’s no small thing. And that nearly three-quarters of Americans think he is a good person even if they don’t approve with the way he has run the country.
He might enjoy higher approval ratings had he given more speeches like that he just delivered, making his case to the American people and defending his actions by relating them to a larger purpose and to the noble principles which define this great nation.