Tribute to Whom Tribute Is Due
Though I voted for him twice, President Bush often disappointed me during his eight years in office. He lacked the ability and/or the will to explain to the American people the necessity and reasoning behind his policies and decisions. He failed to restrain Congress when it was controlled by Republicans and failed to resist Congress when it was controlled by Democrats. He expanded the size and scope of government more than anyone since Lyndon Johnson (if not FDR) in ways that will not easily if ever be undone. He leaves office with the economy in tatters, his popularity near record lows and his political party in the wilderness.
Having said all that, I come to praise Bush, not to bury him.
On the morning of September 10, 2001 almost no one in America was worried about the threat of terrorism. On the morning of September 12, 2001 almost no one in America believed that we would not be attacked again within weeks, let alone for more than seven years afterward. Yet we have not.
This George Bush has done. He has defended the United States from our foreign enemies with complete success. This success has not come due to the surrender of our adversaries. They are just as committed to destroying America as they were on 9/11. But we have stopped every plot, killed or jailed most of their leaders, and seriously degraded their capacity to do us harm. Bush batted 1.000 on the single biggest challenge he faced. For that he deserves our undying gratitude and respect.
If Barack Obama takes these threats and those who make them seriously (sadly there is no evidence to date that he does), devotes huge amounts of attention and resources to countering them (sadly there is no evidence to date that he will) and maintains our focus on the war we are fighting (ditto), he might be able to equal Bush's record...but he cannot surpass it. We will miss the 43rd President. For all of his failings and shortcomings, he protected our nation in a time of war.