Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thank you, President Bush

It doesn't matter what Bush-hating liberals say or even why they hate George Bush, because the reasons they give are just disingenuous hyperbole. The press has been full of hatred for President Bush for eight years in order to market a propaganda of lies.

What's the truth? Historian Andrew Roberts has it right:

"In the avalanche of abuse and ridicule that we are witnessing in the media assessments of President Bush's legacy, there are factors that need to be borne in mind if we are to come to a judgment that is not warped by the kind of partisan hysteria that has characterized this issue on both sides of the Atlantic.

At the time of 9/11, which will forever rightly be regarded as the defining moment of the presidency, history will look in vain for anyone predicting that the Americans murdered that day would be the very last ones to die at the hands of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in the US from that day to this.

The decisions taken by Mr Bush in the immediate aftermath of that ghastly moment will be pored over by historians for the rest of our lifetimes. One thing they will doubtless conclude is that the measures he took to lock down America's borders, scrutinize travelers to and from the United States, eavesdrop upon terrorist suspects, work closely with international intelligence agencies and take the war to the enemy has foiled dozens, perhaps scores of would-be murderous attacks on America. There are Americans alive today who would not be if it had not been for the passing of the Patriot Act. There are 3,000 people who would have died in the August 2005 airline conspiracy if it had not been for the superb inter-agency co-operation demanded by Bush after 9/11.

The next factor that will be seen in its proper historical context in years to come will be the true reasons for invading Afghanistan in October 2001 and Iraq in April 2003. The conspiracy theories believed by many (generally, but not always) stupid people – that it was "all about oil", or the securing of contracts for the US-based Halliburton corporation, etc – will slip into the obscurity from which they should never have emerged had it not been for comedian-filmmakers such as Michael Moore.

Instead, the obvious fact that there was a good case for invading Iraq based on 14 spurned UN resolutions, massive human rights abuses and unfinished business following the interrupted invasion of 1991 will be recalled.

Similarly, the cold light of history will absolve Bush of the worst conspiracy-theory accusation: that he knew there were no WMDs in Iraq. History will show that, in common with the rest of his administration, the British Government, Saddam's own generals, the French, Chinese, Israeli and Russian intelligence agencies, and of course SIS and the CIA, everyone assumed that a murderous dictator does not voluntarily destroy the WMD arsenal he has used against his own people. And if he does, he does not then expel the UN weapons inspectorate looking for proof of it, as he did in 1998 and again in 2001.

Mr Bush assumed that the Coalition forces would find mass graves, torture chambers, evidence for the gross abuse of the UN's food-for-oil programme, but also WMDs. He was right about each but the last, and history will place him in the mainstream of Western, Eastern and Arab thinking on the matter.

The first is that history, by looking at the key facts rather than being distracted by the loud ambient noise of the 24-hour news cycle, will probably hand down a far more positive judgment on Mr Bush's presidency than the immediate, knee-jerk loathing of the American and European elites.

History will probably, assuming it is researched and written objectively, congratulate Mr Bush on the fact that whereas in 2000 Libya was an active and vicious member of what he was accurately to describe as an "axis of evil" of rogue states willing to employ terrorism to gain its ends, four years later Colonel Gaddafi's WMD programme was sitting behind glass in a museum in Oakridge, Tennessee."

With his characteristic openness and at times almost self-defeating honesty, Mr Bush has been the first to acknowledge his mistakes – for example, tardiness over Hurricane Katrina – but there are some he made not because he was a ranting Right-winger, but because he was too keen to win bipartisan support. The invasion of Iraq should probably have taken place months earlier, but was held up by the attempt to find support from UN security council members, such as Jacques Chirac's France, that had ties to Iraq and hostility towards the Anglo-Americans.

History will also take Mr Bush's verbal fumbling into account, reminding us that Ronald Reagan also mis-spoke regularly, but was still a fine president. The first MBA president, who had a higher grade-point average at Yale than John Kerry, Mr Bush's supposed lack of intellect will be seen to be a myth once the papers in his Presidential Library in the Southern Methodist University in Dallas are available.

Films such as Oliver Stone's W, which portray him as a spitting, oafish frat boy who eats with his mouth open and is rude to servants, will be revealed by the diaries and correspondence of those around him to be absurd travesties, of this charming, interesting, beautifully mannered history buff who, were he not the most powerful man in the world, would be a fine person to have as a pal.

Instead of Al Franken, history will listen to Bob Geldof praising Mr Bush's efforts over Aids and malaria in Africa; or to Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, who told him last week: "The people of India deeply love you." And certainly to the women of Afghanistan thanking him for saving them from Taliban abuse, degradation and tyranny.

When Abu Ghraib is mentioned, history will remind us that it was the Bush Administration that imprisoned those responsible for the horrors. When water-boarding is brought up, we will see that it was only used on three suspects, one of whom was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda's chief of operational planning, who divulged vast amounts of information that saved hundreds of innocent lives. When extraordinary renditions are queried, historians will ask how else the world's most dangerous terrorists should have been transported. On scheduled flights?

The credit crunch, brought on by the Democrats in Congress insisting upon home ownership for credit-unworthy people, will initially be blamed on Bush, but the perspective of time will show that the problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started with the deregulation of the Clinton era. Instead Bush's very un-ideological but vast rescue package of $700 billion (£480 billion) might well be seen as lessening the impact of the squeeze, and putting America in position to be the first country out of recession, helped along by his huge tax-cut packages since 2000.

Sneered at for being "simplistic" in his reaction to 9/11, Bush's visceral responses to the attacks of a fascistic, totalitarian death cult will be seen as having been substantially the right ones.

Mistakes are made in every war, but when virtually the entire military, diplomatic and political establishment in the West opposed it, Bush insisted on the surge in Iraq that has been seen to have brought the war around, and set Iraq on the right path. Today its GDP is 30 per cent higher than under Saddam, and it is free of a brutal dictator and his rapist sons.

The number of American troops killed during the eight years of the War against Terror has been fewer than those slain capturing two islands in the Second World War, and in Britain we have lost fewer soldiers than on a normal weekend on the Western Front. As for civilians, there have been fewer Iraqis killed since the invasion than in 20 conflicts since the Second World War.

Iraq has been a victory for the US-led coalition, a fact that the Bush-haters will have to deal with when perspective finally – perhaps years from now – lends objectivity to this fine man's record."

and here's one of the best 'Thank You' articles I have read; a beautifully written Tribute to President Bush:

Thank You, President Bush
by Guy Benson

"President Bush will leave office on Tuesday, and a majority of Americans aren't disappointed to see him go. The country is experiencing a painful recession, enduring an unpopular — albeit successful — war, and people are generally eager to allow a new team to assess and tackle the nation's mounting problems. President Bush also appears ready to relinquish the heavy burdens of the presidency and quietly enter private life back in Texas. Liberals have been literally counting down the days to January 20, 2009 since Bush's re-election victory, and grumbling from the Right has grown steadily louder as the Republican President failed to live up to conservative principles on a number of occasions. In short, precious few people will miss President Bush. But I will.

I had the extraordinary opportunity to serve as a White House intern during Bush's second term. During my short time there, I was struck by the profound decency of the President, as well as the professionalism, dedication, patriotism and sacrifice displayed by his staff. When I would pass through security each morning around 7:45, the President and his top advisers had already been on the job for hours. Every single day. Rain or shine. Although the administration had been battered and bruised from all sides, morale remained surprisingly high due, in large measure, to the President's determined optimism and work ethic. Every day he lived out a passion for protecting this country, and doing so honorably. This outlook commanded enormous respect and affection from his staff, the overwhelming majority of whom remain loyal to their boss, despite all the negative attention paid to a disgruntled few.

Perhaps the most frustrating element of Bush hatred is the widely held perception that he is an unintelligent, uncaring, intellectually incurious man. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many people unfairly dismiss his degrees from both Yale and Harvard as the benefits of a famous last name. Even fewer people are aware of his voracious reading habits. And only a small handful of people have ever experienced President Bush unplugged, pouring out his heart in an off-the-record conversation without a microphone in sight. I had the honor of witnessing such an event.

In the fall of 2007, my office helped coordinate a bill-signing on the third floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a stately edifice standing directly west of the White House itself. The invited guests included a small group of young business leaders from around the country. Right before President Bush made his entrance, a pack of reporters and photographers were herded into the back of the room, only to be hustled away shortly after the official event had concluded. Believing that the event was over, I made a move for a side exit to head back to my office. One of my superiors caught my eye as I approached the door, and mouthed the word "stay." Needless to say, I did.

Moments later, an aide requested that everyone put away any cameras or other potential recording devices because the President was about to entertain some off-the-record questions from the remaining guests. The next 40 minutes were breathtaking. In this relatively intimate setting, President Bush answered a wide range of questions — many of which were far from sycophantic — with a degree of confidence, ease, self-deprecation, and intensity that I had never seen from him. He spoke movingly about his relationship with his father. He joked cheekily about his own malapropisms and his critics. He lightly pounded his fist on the podium while mounting a stirring defense of the Iraq war. His deep understanding of a myriad of intricate issues was undeniable, and he utterly captivated the room.

This, sadly, was the President Bush that few Americans ever saw. As a Bush supporter who'd spent many personal conversations defending him, his brilliant Q&A performance was stunning even to me. I commented to a colleague that if only the whole country could see him in his element, his popularity ratings would spike considerably. Alas, it was too often the President's critics, and his mistakes — real or manufactured — that shaped his public image. The anti-Bush media, desperate to preemptively destroy his legacy, is already nattering about whether he could be the worst president ever. This is nonsense. President Bush is right to suggest that the distance of history will be his most impartial judge, free of the poisonous partisanship that characterizes much of our contemporary discourse. Still, some of his accomplishments are readily identifiable today.

Some of the Bush administration's best decisions and finest chapters came on the heels of failure. The attacks of 9/11 caught the government off-guard and revealed dangerous blind spots in our national security strategy. Bush acted decisively, and protecting the country became a daily obsession. Yes, he's been hammered relentlessly on his tactics, but they achieved results: Zero terrorist attacks inside the United States after that horrific fall morning. That's a feat that seemed nearly impossible in the aftermath of the attacks.

The war effort in Iraq was sliding into the abyss midway through Bush's second term, and the Defense Secretary seemed to have outlived his usefulness in the position. With deaths mounting and public opinion fading fast, the President pulled the trigger on an audacious plan to double-down in Iraq with a controversial troop surge. Even many Republicans cautioned against the move, in many cases for political reasons, yet Bush rebuffed their counsel. The new strategy, along with its new commander and fresh leadership at the Pentagon, has paid enormous dividends. The level of stability in Iraq as Bush leaves office is remarkable. So remarkable, in fact, that the anti-Bush media have virtually stopped covering it because it no longer serves its one-time purpose as prime Bush-bash material.

Poor personnel decisions like the Harriet Miers misadventure and Scott McClellan's atrocious tenure also led to vast improvements. The hapless McClellan was finally replaced by the late, great Tony Snow, followed by Dana Perino, which served as a crucial upgrade from a messaging standpoint. Alongside communications advisors Ed Gillespie and Kevin Sullivan, the last two Bush press secretaries restored competent, likeable, public relations to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The ill-advised Miers Supreme Court nomination galvanized conservatives against President Bush's choice, prompting him to right the ship by nominating an impeccable candidate, who will likely serve as justice for decades to come. Conservatives of all stripes — limited government advocates, national security hawks, and social traditionalists — will be thankful for at least this element of the Bush legacy, especially when the next president begins filling the federal bench with a roster of ACLU all-stars.

Beyond the political and policy legacy President Bush will leave behind, I am grateful that for the last eight years, the country has been led by a man with enormous respect for the office he's held, and who made it his primary mission to keep my friends and family safe from those who seek our destruction. He endured countless indignities — from mean-spirited critics to humiliating betrayal — with grace and class, and without resorting to vindictive or petty retaliation. And although quite a few of Bush's decisions have angered and disappointed me through the years, I never once doubted his motives or his character. For those reasons alone, I say: Thank you, President Bush."

I echo that: Thank you, President Bush

No comments: