April 24, 2013
Driving by the Bush Library at SMU
The Bush Library will open in SMU this week so let "the Bush-43" talk begin.
President Bush has avoided publicity except for sitting next to Nolan Ryan at Rangers' games. He did publish a book but his press contacts have been few.
The Library gives us a chance to look back at an unappreciated man and presidency.
His election in 2000 was indeed very close but it was not decided in Florida. Instead, it was decided in Tennessee, or Gore's home state. Bush could have stolen all of Florida's 7 million votes and still lost the presidency if only Gore had carried his home state of Tennessee, or Clinton delivered his home state of Arkansas. I am convinced that much of the left's anger over 2000 was rooted on the reality that a sitting president & vice-president could not deliver their home states.
Bush was brilliant in his handling of 9-11. I loved his outrage. He defined the threat and did not play word games like Obama does. Wouldn't you love to hear a bit of "you are with us or against us" after Boston! Bush called it a terrorist attack not "a tragedy".
On Iraq, Bush was right. We did not find stockpiles of WMDs at some warehouse but Saddam was a threat to the region. He had invaded two of his neighbors and used chemical weapons twice. Saddam had mocked the UN and laughed at all of those resolutions calling on him to respect the "cease fire" that ended the first Gulf War. The evidence shows that he was determined to rebuild his stockpiles and create more trouble in the region. The world is better off without Saddam and his two sadistic sons.
On Iraq, the Democrats, with the exception of Sen Lieberman and a couple of others, were just utterly dishonest. They supported the war and then they didn't. They never cut the funding once they had majorities.
On Afghanistan, Bush had a better idea. He did not commit troops but used special forces and technology to keep the terrorists in the mountains. Obama, on the other hand, has committed lots of troops and no one has a clue of our objective or policy.
On Latin America, Bush was outspoken in supporting free trade agreements. Obama has largely forgotten the region.
Around the world, Bush was hated but respected. Obama may be loved but does anybody really respect him?
On immigration, Bush spoke to the nation supporting a specific reform. We can agree or disagree with McCain/Kennedy but Bush was willing to take a stand. On the other hand, Obama has delivered ceremonial "5 de Mayo" speeches and has never sent a proposal to Congress after all of these years.
Yes, Bush probably spent too much money. However, the deficits relative to GDP were 3%. On the other hand, Obama has been around 9%.
On spending, we recall Obama saying that it was unpatriotic to leave our kids with so much debt. However, Obama has added more to our debt that Bush did.
On the war against terrorists, Bush was bold and went after the bad guys. On the other hand, Obama called Bush a cowboy and then followed most of his major policies.
History is not through with Bush. No one knows what his presidency will look like 50 years from now when we are all dead and gone. Remember "Seward's Folly" or the purchase of Alaska back in 1867? The "Nixon pardon" looks a lot different years later too!
My point is that future historians will look at his presidency a lot different than we do. They will appreciate things that many of us may not appreciate today. They won't be infected with the "Bush Derangement Syndrome" that so many suffer from today.
My guess is that his presidency will be seen as consequential. Like Truman, he will be remembered for making tough decisions rather than kicking the can down the road like Obama is doing with the debt.
He will also be remembered as a man who spent two terms fully committed to the defense of his homeland.