1.20.2009

Exit Bush


George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, is president no longer.

Bush’s time in office has been hectic, and his second term has been characterized by the continuation of an unpopular war, a faltering economy and sagging approval ratings.

For the most part, I don’t think Bush has been given a fair shake.

Sure, I don’t agree with everything he’s done, but he’s also had a lot to deal with. From the most threatening attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, to a crippling hurricane, to a vice president who accidentally shot someone in the face, President Bush couldn’t really get a break.

From the beginning, people have claimed that he was an idiot because of his famous misstatements, and I’ve mentioned before that I think that’s unfair. Bush actually scored a very respectable 1206 on the SAT, and based on that score, his IQ has been estimated to be around 125, which would put him in the top 10-15% (and therefore, more intelligent than the vast majority of people who make fun of him).

And much has been made about his low approval ratings, but I think we should be pretty careful about judging the success or value of someone based on the fickle feelings of the mob. Abraham Lincoln was an unpopular president as well, but with the benefit of historical context, he is considered by many to be the greatest president in our history (I’m not saying that Bush is the equal of Lincoln, but he’s certainly not the abject failure that he’s been made out to be either).

At the end of the day, whether you agreed with him or not, I think there is one undeniable fact about the presidency of George W. Bush: he made his decisions based on what he thought was the right thing to do, not what would make him popular.

That’s an admirable characteristic. It’s a characteristic that we generally try to instill in our children. And one that is pretty rare amongst politicians.

So goodbye President Bush, and thank you for your service. I tend to think that history will be kind to you. Certainly kinder than we have been.

9 comments:

lookinferlearnin 1/21/09, 11:41 AM  

"George W. Bush: he made his decisions based on what he thought was the right thing to do, not what would make him popular."

Would that we all could conduct ourselves in that way.

Lori 1/21/09, 1:53 PM  

I agree w/ your post.

Angela 1/21/09, 3:59 PM  

I'll agree with you on this to a certain extent.

Obviously he's not the total idiot that he's been made out to be. However, it's not enough to be adequately intelligent for the job of President.

He lacked an intellectual curiosity about the world around him, and I think we suffered because of that. His decisions about Iraq were made without true analysis of the situation and more on gut instinct.

He put buddies and Republican faithful in positions they had no qualifications for, and that's partly why the Katrina situation was bungled. (And I'll certainly admit he's not the first or last politician to do so...)

Also, doing what you think it is right is great unless your compass guides you wrong, and I think his did more than once.

And this is not his fault, but the sound of the man's voice just got on my nerves! (And using words like "decider"? as in "I'm the decider"?!!?!!)

I will thank him for the peace on our own soil we've had since 9/11, and for his stance on pro-life issues, but precious little else.

Luke 1/21/09, 10:23 PM  

lookinferlearnin,

Amen! The world would certainly be a better place if we could.

Luke 1/21/09, 10:23 PM  

Lori,

Thanks!

Luke 1/21/09, 10:50 PM  

Angela,

(1) “Intellectual Curiosity”

I’d be interested to hear more on this.

(2) “Put buddies and Republican faithful in positions they had no qualifications for…”

Without a specific list, I don’t know to who all you’re referring to exactly, but I won’t automatically disagree.

As you pointed out though, it’s not an unusual practice. Consider Obama:

-In a time of deep economic crisis (brought on in large part due to a lack of personal responsibility), his nominee for the US Secretary of the Treasury (Geithner) is a man who has trouble paying his own income taxes.

-In a time of ongoing war and the constant threat of terrorist activity, his nominee to head up the CIA (Panetta) is a man with little to no intelligence experience.

So I’m not sure to what degree Bush deserves to be called out for this?

(3) “Also, doing what you think is right is great unless your compass guides you wrong, and I think his did more than once.”

I think so too. I think yours has probably malfunctioned before too, as has mine.

But even if (when) you’re wrong, it’s more admirable to do what you think is right than just what you think will make you popular.

(4) It’s all subjective, but I always found Bush’s mannerisms and misstatements to be endearing.

John McCain—now there’s a guy I can’t stand to listen to.

(5) “I will thank him for the peace on our own soil we've had since 9/11, and for his stance on pro-life issues, but precious little else.”

It’s a simplistic view perhaps, but I’ve always thought the primary role of a government is to protect its citizens.

I think Bush did that, and considering the Pro-life angle, he did it to an extent that his predecessor and successor were/will be inherently incapable of.

Will 1/25/09, 12:00 AM  

Bush gets called out for his reliance on cronies all the time who weren't qualified. His opponents like to point out the failures of FEMA and Michael Brown during the aftermath of Katrina as proof. However, it appears (in hindsight) that Brown was doing his job. He just became the fall guy, much like Scooter Libby did in a very different case.

Bush is all about cronies but the real cronies, like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are highly qualified, and aren't forced to resign and don't go to jail.

Will 1/25/09, 12:14 AM  

I would also like to say that Bush will probably be remembered by history as an average President. His administration will be highlighted by 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the USA PATRIOT Act, the highs and lows of the economy, and the war on AIDS. There are other parts of his two terms that could be remembered, but that depends largely on what happens in future administrations.

Luke 1/26/09, 2:08 PM  

Will,

I think you’re largely right about the things that Bush will be remembered for, and it highlights, I think, what I was saying earlier about Bush having a lot of stuff to deal with.

If all you knew about Bush was what the general media has to say about him, you’d think he was one of the very worst presidents in history. That just seems ridiculous to me.

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