By Rose Pedenko and Tanya Simon
“Love him or hate him” means there have been no shades of gray sentiment for George W. Bush, except for what we see now on the top of his head. When you look at a photo from the year 2000 of the newly elected 43rd President of the United States (or “appointed” if you’re a lefty), you see a man in his prime — nary a sign of misspent youth on this face. The full head of wavy medium ash brown hair was well-groomed, but not the pampered $400 coiffures of the opposition party prima donnas.
It is well documented scientifically that stress is a silent killer. Many of us are familiar with its effects and can expound at length on the various levels of pressure we personally tolerate on a daily basis. There are few among us that don’t reach for the Advil or a cocktail just to level out. Workers from the highest to the lowest end of the totem pole experience some form of stress whether physical or emotional, or both. An unexpected financial or health crisis can debilitate the strongest among us.
We would do well to ponder for a moment just how (or if) we could manage the pressure of having the weight of our country, and often the world, on our shoulders. For most of us, it’s unimaginable.
George W. Bush has endured the intense highs and lows of eight turbulent years in office. His calm in the face of vicious unwarranted and false accusations has impressed us. But the effects have carved valleys of anguish on his face and a premature winter on his head. The indelible marks will remain with him, but they should be worn as a badge of honor. He has borne with graciousness personal attacks that would certainly have brought lesser men to their knees.
Like his father, George H.W. Bush, that inherited handsome countenance which might have graced many a historical monument some day may instead only remain chiseled in the American psyche.
Conservatives have had their issues with some of this President’s positions, but we always remained grateful for his strength of leadership, his steadfast and unwavering focus in the face of evil, and his calm in the stormy eye of Islamist terrorism.
However history remembers this man, it must also note that, like no other president in recent memory, George Bush bears on his face the pain of sorrow for the loss of each and every soldier, sailor, airman and marine, and for the gut-wrenching deaths of innocent Americans of all races and cultures from September 11th to the present day. He has worn his heart on his sleeve, weeping openly for the pain and suffering of others, with genuine dignity and without shirking his duty. He walked into that office with a twinkle in his eye but will depart with the reflection of our many lost souls.
No other American president has had to endure the unanticipated and tragic levels of natural disasters, heinous acts of terrorism on U.S. soil and on American ships at sea and U.S. outposts all over the world. The growing financial catastrophes presently overwhelming us were not the result of one person’s action or inaction, but a series of bi-partisan machinations that snowballed into this avalanche of financial despair. George Bush will accept the blame because that is part of the job. The media will continue to have a field day with him fueled by their blind hatred which has changed the face of journalism forever.
This is not a panegyric to George Bush, but rather a fair and sincere acknowledgment of gratitude to the President that has kept the country safe. Unlike the cockeyed thinking on the left, we do not believe it is mere coincidence that we have not been attacked again given the provocative jihadist proclamations issued regularly since 9/11. President Bush promised to keep us safe, and he has kept that promise. His protection is not the paternalistic form of government craved by the left, but from the honest conviction of one man borne of his faith. Whether you are guided by religious or secular beliefs, there is an underlying moral code at work that cannot be denied or denigrated.
George Bush has been (and we do not use this description lightly) our Commander-in-Grief as well as the leader of the free world. He earned his stripes the hard way – by leading our nation through a minefield of media booby traps, by staying the course of his unpopular decisions (like comprehensive immigration reform and Medicare prescription benefits), and never bending to the arrogance or outrageous demands of European elitists.
He has protected all things American. The most salient example are the thousands of ugly Americans that have disrespected and smeared the office of the presidency and spewed forth eight years’ worth of venomous rhetoric, the sole purpose of which was to destroy the man who has protected the very democracy that gave them that right of expression.
This is the man who, time and time again, reached far across the partisan table knowing he was crossing the Rubicon of his party’s principles. There is an underlying non-ideological goodness to this man who has been willing to do what he believes is best for the nation without equivocating about his intentions.
No one, if they are honest, can devalue or take that strength of character away from him. This trait of unfaltering conviction has been mocked mercilessly for two full terms. But in the end, notwithstanding his whitened hair, President George W. Bush will be able to depart from the White House with his head held high.