Monday, November 14, 2011

Missing George W. Bush

By Alan Caruba

It's not fashionable to speak well of Obama's predecessor, but it grows more difficult by the day to find anything good to say about the incumbent President who recently opined that Americans are “lazy” and have "lost our ambition." As I recall he spent his first year in office going around the world apologizing for what he deemed America’s past sins and exceptualism.

No, I am talking about George W. Bush, often referred to as Bush 43. I think historians are going to treat him more kindly than might seem likely to some at this point almost three years since the current President took the oath of office in January 2009. Bush43, with Trumanesque self-discipline and modesty, went home and has not spoken out about his successor’s decisions in office, neither to criticize nor praise. That’s how presidents are expected to behave.

Bush43, however, did begin writing a memoir of his eight years in office called “Decision Points” and, when it was first published, it became a bestseller. It is available now in a softcover edition from Broadway Books at $18.00, but already discounted to an affordable twelve dollars and change on As a longtime book reviewer, I received the softcover edition and have been reading it in lieu of watching the horrid stuff that passes for television these days.

I begin with a confession that, throughout his two terms, I had a good opinion of George W. Bush. I disagreed with his No Child Left Behind approach to education and I thought that adding a prescription benefit to an already broke Medicare was unwise. I had some qualms about the creation of the super agency, Homeland Security, and the Patriot Act. By the time the “surge” in Iraq arrived, I thought it was a bad idea to have invaded even though I understood the threat that Saddam Hussein posed in the region. As it turned out, other Middle East dictators began to fall like dominoes in the wake of the U.S. action.

Bush’s book surprised me. I had no idea of the depth of his religious faith and how it sustained him through the trial of 9/11 and other difficult times such as the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This is a man who begins his day by reading the Bible. Frankly, I found that comforting.

I looked upon his presidency as being part of the “family business.” His grandfather, Prescott Bush had been a U.S. Senator from Connecticut. His father, George H.W. Bush had served as Ronald Reagan’s Vice President before being elected President in his own right. What comes through George W’s memoir is his deep love for his parents, his brothers, and his own family, wife Laura and his twin girls.

The memoir is not some coldly intellectual analysis, but rather is infused with his own emotions as he dealt with crisis, the greatest of which—9/11—turned him into a wartime president. I think he met the challenge of the first attack on the homeland since Pearl Harbor and one that took the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans, including first responders.

When Bush visited the site of Ground Zero in New York amidst the still smoking ruins, a soot-covered firefighter “looked me in square in the eye and said, ‘George, find the bastards who did this and kill them.’ It’s not often that people call the president by his first name. But that was fine with me. This was personal.”

What distinguishes “Decision Points” is the fact that it is devoted to explaining why he did what he did during his two terms. We need to remind ourselves of the times in which those decisions were occurring and, perhaps, to remember how frightened the nation was in the wake of 9/11.

That fear gave way quickly to the leadership Bush provided; his decision to invade Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and al Qaeda, the creation of “Gitmo” as a place to hold non-state combatants and the reorganization of government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to better coordinate their ability to share information. In the eight years that followed, no further attacks were successful.

That stands in contrast with President Obama’s announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed. It was filled with “I did this” and “I did that” and never once mentioned that it was possible only because of the machinery that George W. Bush had put in place. Indeed, Obama had wanted to close Gitmo and try the planner of 9/11 in a civil court with all the protections the U.S. Constitution provides Americans. Both proposals were abandoned after widespread opposition.

Bush’s second term ended under a cloud from the housing mortgage crisis that required extraordinary efforts to avoid the collapse of the nation’s financial system. It obscured Bush’s tax cut, signed into law in May 2003, that led to economic growth for 46 consecutive months and resulted in an unemployment rate that averaged only 5.3 percent during his presidency.

There is much more that can and will be credited to George W. Bush for his two terms and, given the failure of the present administration to reverse the recession, to turn the tide on unemployment, to have increased the national debt to a level that exceeds all previous presidents in just three years, and to have been the first to see the nation’s credit rating downgraded, the contrast is too great to ignore.

Elections do have consequences. In both cases, the elections of George W. Bush were “squeakers” that might have put Al Gore or John Kerry in the White House. I think America dodged a bullet, but then forgot how important it is to put someone in office who will protect the nation and grow its economy. 2012 will give us another opportunity to do that.

© Alan Caruba, 2011


Guy in Ohio said...

I would give my eye teeth to have GW back in the oval office right now ...

Countdown to the end of the Obama Nightmare

Lime Lite said...

Alan - I too think that GWB will be viewed favorably in the future. You can only laugh at what a joke Obama has turned out to be (or cry). Hopefully America will recover from his 'leadership'. The only problem is that you have another election to go through of him charming the pants off the people. He has the cash and he's not scared to use it!

Ronbo said...

I hate to say it, but I miss old George too.

I often disagreed with his domestic policies, but I loved his leadership in the flag waving military surge against Islamism - the USA knocked radical Muslim terrorism on its rear end in the twin campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan for many years.

GWB's great mistake in my never humble opinion was not taking advantage of the patriotic tone post 9/11 to crush the traitors of the American Left and deport/imprison the radical Muslim leadership in the USA.

Therefore, objective historians of the future will look at Bush 43 and wonder why overseas he went full bore against foreign enemies of the Republic while allowing a 5th Column of Leftist and Islamist traitors free run of the country.

J Johnston said...

I miss George Bush... and I am not afraid to say it. Too many focus on some of the mistakes that came his way.... these many often make total judgment on mistakes even though some of the mistakes were not of his own making. If one takes the best of the last three Democrat Presidents and put it along side the worst of the last three Republican presidents.... make judgement of affairs on moral, legal, economic, and foreign issues... one would be hard pressed to make a winner of the Democratic composite.

Guy in Ohio said...

Forcefully eradicating a subversive element in a free society is a tricky proposition Ronbo. You risk turning the entire society against yourself if you overstep your boundaries. People in America are very sensitive to anything that resembles totalitarianism (as we've seen with Obama's administration) and if you try to do it while flying under the radar, it makes people even angrier (as we're also seeing with the Obama administration).

It would have been political suicide for the Republican party had Bush done anything of the sort during his term as President. Just look what they did to us over his foreign policy alone ...

Effectively trouncing an enemy requires that the vast majority of the country's people be united against that enemy, and sadly, at this point in time, we aren't. Things are going to have to get a lot worse before Americans are going to stand in unison against anyone, including radical Islam or our Progressive Socialist element.

We have a serious reality crisis in this country. Although things are tough, they're still far better here in America than they are in the rest of the world. We are living in a relatively luxurious time, all things considered, and people are still free to ignore the harsh realities of life and immerse themselves in the nonsense that makes America famous. They are distracted and out of touch, and they've lost sight of what it means to be a socially responsible and politically involved society. They spend most of their time ignoring the bad news of the day, and gratifying themselves with senseless diversions and pleasures, while our enemies are hard at work, chipping away at our freedoms, one by one.

However, I haven't given up on Americans just yet ... One nuclear or biological attack, or serious mis-step by a President who thinks his authority exceeds that of Congress or the people, could change that in seconds and unite us under a common cause.

For now though, in lieu of some sort of serious crisis that unites us, the only rational options we really have to fight the destructive agents of "change" at work in America are political action and education. Unfortunately, our enemies are way ahead of us. They have done their best to infiltrate and take control of the "educational" and political segments of our society for that very same reason. It's about time we get serious, and take education, the media, and our local governments back ... peacefully if possible, and forcefully if necessary.

Through education, and the effective dissemination of conservative beliefs, principles and values, I believe we can re-open American eyes to the dangers we face, and stop this downward slide we're in. If we fail, then eventually, the crisis will come, millions will suffer, and the situation will eventually resolve itself, one way or another.

At that point, we must have faith in the American spirit, and take comfort in the fact that the forces of evil must certainly fail, and that freedom and liberty will ultimately prevail.

Anonymous said...

All things considered, I'd take Bush back in a heartbeat...

Did he make mistakes? Sure, ALL Presidents do, but he was still head and shoulders above anything connected to Obama...

CurshDude said...

I have to wonder what some democratic voters are thinking right now compared to what they were thinking 3 years ago?

I can tell you myself. I was a democrat. I could not stand George W Bush and did not think he was sincere or competent. From the perspective I had, he wasn't acceptable. But you must know. I stood up for homosexuals and other agendas that are considered liberal.

But I have since changed. It wasn't Obama who sparked the change. It was God. And before you go thinking "Oh here's a religious whacko" you need to understand something.

At the time I had not realized that what I was fighting for was indeed the anhilation of our morals, values, and freedoms as they should be. In other words, our way of life. Finding God actually placed me more in line with a conservative agenda because there are rules and regulations regarding our way of life. Christianity had a lot to do with what started this country on its path.

But, even though Obama appeared like a savior in 2004, he turned out to be the biggest deceiver of them all. It appears to me that he is the door opener for a lot of filth to walk right in.

I am not without doubt when it comes to voting, considering that to me Presidential candidates seem to have a lot to hide. But, if I do vote, it will likely be for a Republican candidate that may stand against the muslims in America. That seems to be a real issue that isn't getting near enough attention or education.