One of the most amusing things about the past eight years has been watching certain people on the left launch into paroxysms of outrage every time the name, “George W. Bush,” is mentioned.Â They even got upset that, at the close of his tenure in office, he reminded the American people of his accomplishments instead of apologizing for his mistakes. In their eyes, that good man could do no right.
And yes, despite his many flaws, he is a good man.Â Even his Democratic successor has said as much.Â But, for many of his supporters, “to trash Bush was to belong,” as if expressing animosity toward the president were the sacrament of their faith.
George W. Bush, however, is anything but the demon or clown of their caricatures.Â He was — and remains — a complex man who, to be sure, made many mistakes as president, but, who pretty much got the big things right.Â I say, “pretty much,” because while he did shift strategy in Iraq he was slow in doing so.
Above all, he kept us safe.Â Since 9/11, there have been no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
Let us hope the determination in his decisive reaction to the attacks defines his legacy, an example of how a leader should react in time of crisis:
Bush showed America’s enemies a country that does not retreat in fear, does not bomb with impunity, and most important, does not desert civilians or foreign governments that trust us. If you think that doesn’t matter, look at Libya, which disarmed its weapons program. And see how much easier Obama’s presidency will be, because Bush kept the faith.
In the process of looking out for our country, George W. Bush, overthrew two tyrannous regimes and liberated fifty million people.
Just as we remember Harry S Truman today more for his strong stance against the expansion of Communism in the immediate aftermath of World War II rather than his blundering economic policies, notably his attempt to nationalize the steel mills, so will people remember Bush’s resolve against the violent expression of Islamic fanaticism rather than his failure to show similar resolve against the financial shenanigans of unregulated government sponsored enterprises (GSEs).
In his first months in office, Bush was aware of the problem which would spark the crisis, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were too “large and overleveraged.”Â Â As Karl Rove recounts, Bush’s first budget, issued in April 2001, warned that their “failure ‘could cause strong repercussions in financial markets, affecting federally insured entities and economic activity’ well beyond housing.”
But, when those GSEs fought back, the Administration did not press the issue, all but abandoning its reform proposals when Democrats and, yes, some Republicans, blocked them in Congress.
Throughout his tenure in office, Bush would attempt to rein Fannie and Freddie, offering 17 proposals for reform in 2008 alone, but didn’t work hard enough to overcome Democratic opposition.Â Â That said, I would rather he show determination against global terrorism than financial malfeasance.
As George W. Bush leaves office, he leaves behind a mixed record.Â On the most important issue facing a Commander in Chief, he acquitted himself quite well, showing admirable determination when our nation was under attack. Would he had shown similar resolve in facing the financial crisis.
Given the choices we had in 2000 and 2004, I know I made the right decision in voting for George W. Bush.Â He was not just the better of the two candidates, he was also a good man.Â He proved a steady hand in responding to an unexpected attack on civilian targets on American soil.Â That response helped keep us safe as it helped free tens of millions of oppressed citizens of other lands.
For that alone, he merits our respect.Â And our thanks.