Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Farewell, GWB.

I’ve long discussed on these pages making time to do a send off of President George W. Bush. I’ve been so busy with other things I’ve kinda fallen away from focusing on JG&AH. I figured I’d take a few minutes this evening to give him the send off that he deserves, parroting a lot of good things I’m reading over at National Review Online.

I’m really disappointed in a lot of the decisions GWB made over the course of the last eight years. Upon his first inauguration I can recall a feeling of optimism that I hadn’t experienced the previous eight, during Bill Clinton’s term in office. Of all the things to detest about Bill Clinton, the number one thing that galled me about the man was his abject insincerity. I have always had, as frequent patrons know, a contempt for politicians who whore themselves out for re-election. Bill Clinton often came across to me as a guy that would do anything, cross any line to keep his reelection chances intact (92-96) and to protect his legacy (97-00). What were his principles? Hard to tell, though if the bulk of his public utterances were any indication, it was somewhat clear that he was a McGovernite Democrat. Unless the polls told him to be something else. I trusted the man as far as I could throw him, quite honestly. His unwillingness to be anything but a womanizing politician who was obsessed with poll numbers, to me, is a characteristic I view as antithetical to what the Framers envisioned in a President.

Truthfully, my initial impressions of the younger Bush were only a gut feeling, and in January 2001 I really had no way of knowing if he’d be any different. But I think GWB’s history of decisions made leading up to today’s transfer of power show that he was a solid man of principle, as I suspected he would be. Granted, some of those principles made very little sense to me (immigration policies, runaway social spending, grabbing the ankles for the Global Warming believers), yet in Bush’s heart he felt the path that he was treading was the right one.

No where in GWB’s policy convictions was this unwavering commitment to his conscience more evident and noble than in his tight grip on victory in Iraq. In late 2005 and early 2006, the Ministry of Information (at the time known as the Useful Idiots of the MSM) was a complete tool of our enemies in Iraq. Daily, we’d see stories of civil unrest, troop casualties, roadside bombs, strained recruiting in the Army and Marine Corps; we’d hear the media throw the words “civil war” around on a daily basis. Everything was in line for the President to throw in the towel. His approval ratings continued to plunge. He didn’t care. He did what was right.

How would Clinton have handled it? Its pure speculation, but if history was any guide, he’d have pulled the plug the minute negative public opinion began to seriously impact his approval rating. The consequences of abandoning the fledgling elected government would have been unimaginable. Allies could no longer count on our word or respect our resolve. Jihadis the world over would have it confirmed before their very eyes that the US was, as bin Laden had said, “A Paper Tiger”. Our needed threats of force to keep rogue nations in line would for generations ring hollow.

GWB, however, was different. He saw the impact of a world with a defeated US Military far beyond his own career as a politician. He knew that pulling out of Iraq prematurely would undoubtedly ease pressure on him at home. But there was a principle at stake that was larger than himself. And he endured to see a largely victorious America in Iraq.

And it wasn’t just in Iraq that Bush’s unwavering principles kept us safe. His willingness to turn a deaf ear to people who accused him of everything from torture to spying on Americans (all of it bogus, but I digress) allowed him to ignore the damage such libel did to his reputation. For GWB, getting information from detainees taken from the battlefield and learning what the enemy had in store for us was too valuable to be cast aside to win the approval of the NY Times Editorial Board. Would Clinton have taken this course, in the face of mounting media criticism? Let history answer that question as well, hypothetical though it may be.

With all the Ministry of Information hysteria about the incoming Obama administration, today at lunch I found myself scouring the news websites for updates on what W was up to.

Was he a perfect president? No. Did he piss away, many times, the opportunity to be the heir-apparent of Reagan? You could certainly make a convincing case that he did. Was he a genuine man of principle, classy to the hilt, and a rock solid American who had her best interests at heart, far beyond his career and days? I don’t think you could argue contrary, if you were honest.

Enjoy the remaining days of your life, Mr. President. Your commitment to your principles and most importantly, your protection and leadership in America’s dark days in the war against Islamofascism make me, a proud American, eternally grateful to you. You must be the happiest man on the planet right now.