As President George W. Bush enters the final hours of his presidency, a certain sadness has gripped me. As I watched his good-bye speech to the nation, I was reminded of all that this brave man has done for the country and all of the things that we should thank the 43rd President of the United States for. It was a sobering reminder that the man who is taking office after him has a very different view of America and the world and we will be worse off for it.
So as President Bush’s tenure comes to the end, I want to pause and thank the man from Texas for all that he’s done during his tenure. I’m sure there will be many who will write about the missed opportunities of the Bush Administration and the mistakes that he has made. My intention, however, is to give my own favorite moments of the Bush presidency as a tribute to his many successes.
1. His transition in 2000 and 2001: Unlike the reality show freak parade that the Obama transition has become with its imaginary “Office of the President-Elect” and shirtless photos, spam lovefests, and more scandals than one can count, George W. Bush entered the presidency with class and grace. After a close election and nightmare of a recount with hanging chads, George W. Bush stayed low-key and respectful of Al Gore, Bill Clinton and the outgoing administration. He also showed real humility and class in his inaugural speech and really set out to heal the nation from a point of humility. This is a far cry from the attempts to heal the nation from the pinnacle of hubris as Mr. Obama has done.
2. Standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center: This for me was one of the most memorable moments of his presidency. The compassion and courage in the face of such evil and destruction demonstrated to the world that George W. Bush was selected to be the President “for such a time as this.” He was quite simply the right man at the right time. His speeches to congress and the National Cathedral during the same time period also showed the stature, clear-sightedness and resolve of the newly minted President.
3. His Supreme Court appointments (not counting Harriet Myers!): John Roberts and Sam Alito have demonstrated that they are good solid conservative judges. President Bush’s other judicial appointments to the federal bench were also solid and will impact our legal system for years to come. Nowhere is that more evident, however, than the Supreme Court. We seriously came within 1 vote of a conservative majority on the court for the first time in decades. Sadly, many conservatives shot themselves in the foot by not voting for McCain when the truth is that he would most likely have given us that 5th vote.
4. Ban on Partial-birth abortion: President Bush signed this federal ban into law, which was finally upheld by the Supreme Court with the new Bush appointees. This is a huge victory for the unborn and a big step forward for our nation. Surely we can do better than stabbing infants in the skull, sucking their brains out and then dismembering them in the name of convenience and choice.
5. Tax Cuts: Thank you Mr. President for the tax cuts that made a noticeable difference in my own life. The increased child tax credit has been a blessing to this father of three and won’t soon be forgotten. Although we still struggle to pay the bills in this high-taxed state of NJ, I’m sure my taxes will go even higher in 2009 with the one-two combo of Corzine and Obama.
6. Iraq: I don’t see Iraq as a mistake. Call me a zealot and extremist if you like, but this was a step that had to be taken and only President Bush had the courage to do it. President Clinton made the same statements as President Bush on Iraq. The difference was that he only bombed the country’s random aspirin factories whenever a sex scandal involving him began to heat up and never took anything seriously. President Bush liberated millions of people from a genocidal madman who supported terrorism around the world financially and used WMDs on his own people. Removing him from power was the right thing to do. President Bush continued to show tremendous courage and humility by taking the criticism the media handed him and standing resolute in his position regarding this war. That determination led to the surge and the successful resolution of the war (unless Barry screws it up.)
7. The War on Terror & Gitmo: President Bush gets it. Evil exists and needs to be dealt with. Unlike the rest of the fickle country, this president remembered what 9-11-01 felt like. If most of us take a moment and think back or re-watch some of the video footage from that day, we will remember how we also felt. President Bush took the fight to international terrorism like nobody ever has. In a world of weak-kneed and wobbly leaders, President Bush was a solid rock of good standing against the forces of evil. As a result, he liberated millions of people from the oppression of the Taliban in the war with Afghanistan.
Even Gitmo, despite all of the nonsense from the media, has helped to thwart several follow-up attacks and kept the American people safe. President Bush understands that when you are dealing with evil men who want to strap bombs to their chest in order to kill you, you don’t offer them tea and scones and politely ask them their thoughts on international politics. Thankfully, we had a real man in charge for the last 8 years who was willing to fight evil with every ounce of his strength. His re-structuring of the intelligence community and of the military itself will be a blessing to our nation for years to come as we continue to deal with the scourge of terrorism. This country and indeed this world owes him a great deal of gratitude.
8. Standing for faith and freedom around the globe: President Bush has been very open about his own Christian faith. His wearing a bracelet from the Voice of the Martyrs organization saying “Pray for China” to the Beijing Olympics was just another example of that. Throughout his administration he has pressured China and other anti-Christian countries to allow religious freedom in their country for persecuted Christians.
9. Africa: While liberals like to claim that they care, they do very little beyond talk. President Bush has done more for the continent of Africa than any president in American history. From his initiatives to deal with HIV/AIDS to his speaking out against the genocide in the Sudan and elsewhere, President Bush has led the way. While Barack Obama was supporting a communist anti-Christian zealot for president in Kenya and ignoring his own brother living in poverty, President Bush was making the poverty and genocide on the African continent a priority.
10. HUMILITY: While Barack Obama continues to spend all of his time making out with the camera and showing off his beach body, President Bush has been doing some very impressive things behind the scenes. President Bush has demonstrated time and time again a tremendous humility and grace that is so necessary in a president. His countless private visits with wounded soldiers and their families go unreported because President Bush refuses to invite the press along or even alert them to his visits. Contrast this with the incoming president who refused to visit with sick soldiers during the campaign because he wasn’t permitted to bring cameras along. President Bush is substance while Barack Obama is style. He is the real deal. A good caring patriotic man who continues to sacrifice of his time and reputation for the nation he loves. History will judge this man far differently than the vain talking heads in the media. In a world that favors the flavor of the month, President Bush stood firm.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney have served humbly and with honor throughout these 8 years. I didn’t agree with everything that they did, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that they always had the country’s best interests at heart. For 8 years, we could go to bed at night knowing that President Bush was in control and that he would do everything in his power to keep us safe. I’m afraid that is a luxury that we simply won’t have during the next 4 years. For now, however, I would like to thank President Bush for all that he’s done and wish him well as he returns to private life.
May God Bless President George W. Bush!