A Great and Good Man bids Adieu

Tonight President George W. Bush bids the nation his official farewell, the final address he will deliver from behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. It may be said that no president who has ever sat behind that desk lived up to its name more than the 43rd president. For good or ill, George W. Bush is and always will be his own man. As Mark Steyn recently asked in National Review: Do you realize how rare that is?

Regrettably, our nation is afflicted with the shortest of attention spans. We are overloaded with information and long memories seem increasingly rare. But it is necessary to remember the atmosphere in which this president took office. There was an attempted coup through the courts to overturn his election before he arrived in Washington. When he was finally permitted to take his rightful place, his staffers found government computers trashed and executive offices ransacked by those who stood by and defended a perjuring reprobate. Keep that in mind as the incoming retreads stand agape at the seamless cooperation of the present transition.

At any given time since January 20, 2001, millions of Americans believed the sitting president was illegitimate, and so believed after he garnered the most votes to that point in history in 2004. Such madness was inflamed by an outrageously hostile press, who gave in to their pettiness and rage to portray a buffoon propped up by an evil sidekick, happily wrenching liberty. Simultaneously, many of these same outlets brooked no hesitation in fabricating stories out of whole cloth and, worse, revealing state secrets to sworn enemies. And the president's reaction - the president who is accused of trampling on the Constitution during his daily workouts? No White House press credentials were pulled; no newspapers or networks banned; no public campaigns were waged against the media. Many would have preferred like-measured retaliation, but it is not in the constitution of George W. Bush. He is a Christian, and lives the ethic - always.

What of the war against Islamic jihad? As bizarre is it may seem to some, George W. Bush inherited that war, meekly prosecuted by his predecessor - so much so that it set up the murder and mayhem of September 11. No other president had been thrust into such a maelstrom. The response required boldness, assertiveness, and creativity. We may never know the extent of the existing threats, the scale of planned attacks that have been stopped cold, the numbers of lives saved. Perhaps we are getting a window into that as we observe President Bush's successor inch away from his irresponsible, ignorant rhetoric of the campaign trail. Nothing crystallizes the mind as cold reality, and it may be that the next president has come to see that the work of this administration has been crucial in preventing a day or days that would render September 11 mere prologue. 

In the meantime, the fight goes on. The strategies and execution of battle plans have not been flawless. Mistakes have been made, lives have been lost. Nobody would be so obtuse as to argue otherwise. Those looking to present a wartime - or peacetime - administration without such mistakes and losses will go begging. To think this president has been callous in receiving news of American military losses is simply false. Every loss has been grieved and personal sympathy always conveyed. The president did not wish to send the military into situations like no others, but he did what he had to do. Our safety and security speaks for itself.

George W. Bush is that rare combination in that peculiar breed we call the American Politician. Events conspired to test him as few presidents have been tested. In executing his chief responsibilities as the commander-in-chief, he demonstrated his resolve - if not always as aggressively as some may have wished. He demonstrated his greatness. But great men are rarely good men; they are rarely as kind, as humble, and as self-effacing. After the impeached presidency, the United States needed a good man. After September 11, 2001, we needed a great man.

In George W. Bush, we have had both. Those who realize what he has faced, and the grace with which he has come through, shall miss him when he is gone. As he says farewell, it is fitting to appreciate his greatness and his goodness and to salute one of the best people to ever inhabit the White House under some of the worst circumstances.

Thank you and Godspeed, George W. Bush. 

Matthew May welcomes comments at matthewtmay@yahoo.com
Tonight President George W. Bush bids the nation his official farewell, the final address he will deliver from behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. It may be said that no president who has ever sat behind that desk lived up to its name more than the 43rd president. For good or ill, George W. Bush is and always will be his own man. As Mark Steyn recently asked in National Review: Do you realize how rare that is?

Regrettably, our nation is afflicted with the shortest of attention spans. We are overloaded with information and long memories seem increasingly rare. But it is necessary to remember the atmosphere in which this president took office. There was an attempted coup through the courts to overturn his election before he arrived in Washington. When he was finally permitted to take his rightful place, his staffers found government computers trashed and executive offices ransacked by those who stood by and defended a perjuring reprobate. Keep that in mind as the incoming retreads stand agape at the seamless cooperation of the present transition.

At any given time since January 20, 2001, millions of Americans believed the sitting president was illegitimate, and so believed after he garnered the most votes to that point in history in 2004. Such madness was inflamed by an outrageously hostile press, who gave in to their pettiness and rage to portray a buffoon propped up by an evil sidekick, happily wrenching liberty. Simultaneously, many of these same outlets brooked no hesitation in fabricating stories out of whole cloth and, worse, revealing state secrets to sworn enemies. And the president's reaction - the president who is accused of trampling on the Constitution during his daily workouts? No White House press credentials were pulled; no newspapers or networks banned; no public campaigns were waged against the media. Many would have preferred like-measured retaliation, but it is not in the constitution of George W. Bush. He is a Christian, and lives the ethic - always.

What of the war against Islamic jihad? As bizarre is it may seem to some, George W. Bush inherited that war, meekly prosecuted by his predecessor - so much so that it set up the murder and mayhem of September 11. No other president had been thrust into such a maelstrom. The response required boldness, assertiveness, and creativity. We may never know the extent of the existing threats, the scale of planned attacks that have been stopped cold, the numbers of lives saved. Perhaps we are getting a window into that as we observe President Bush's successor inch away from his irresponsible, ignorant rhetoric of the campaign trail. Nothing crystallizes the mind as cold reality, and it may be that the next president has come to see that the work of this administration has been crucial in preventing a day or days that would render September 11 mere prologue. 

In the meantime, the fight goes on. The strategies and execution of battle plans have not been flawless. Mistakes have been made, lives have been lost. Nobody would be so obtuse as to argue otherwise. Those looking to present a wartime - or peacetime - administration without such mistakes and losses will go begging. To think this president has been callous in receiving news of American military losses is simply false. Every loss has been grieved and personal sympathy always conveyed. The president did not wish to send the military into situations like no others, but he did what he had to do. Our safety and security speaks for itself.

George W. Bush is that rare combination in that peculiar breed we call the American Politician. Events conspired to test him as few presidents have been tested. In executing his chief responsibilities as the commander-in-chief, he demonstrated his resolve - if not always as aggressively as some may have wished. He demonstrated his greatness. But great men are rarely good men; they are rarely as kind, as humble, and as self-effacing. After the impeached presidency, the United States needed a good man. After September 11, 2001, we needed a great man.

In George W. Bush, we have had both. Those who realize what he has faced, and the grace with which he has come through, shall miss him when he is gone. As he says farewell, it is fitting to appreciate his greatness and his goodness and to salute one of the best people to ever inhabit the White House under some of the worst circumstances.

Thank you and Godspeed, George W. Bush. 

Matthew May welcomes comments at matthewtmay@yahoo.com