I am asked often my opinion of the Bush Presidency. Was it a success? Was it a failure? I suppose the answer is, "A little bit of both." Though I believe the man always did what he thought was right, and I agreed with much of what he did, there were also many things I disagreed with when it came to his presidency. If asked for a survey if I approved of his presidency, I would say, "Yes, but with an asterisk."
Inauguration Day on January 20th, 2001, launched the first presidential term of George W. Bush. Already Bush's presidency was mired with controversy. Only 39 days earlier was his win in the battle for the White House made certain by a Supreme Court decision. The decision came as a result of a close election bombarded by ballot re-counts, questionable election proceedings, and headline grabbing "hanging chads."
Inaugural protesters lined Pennsylvania Avenue during Bush's first swearing-in bearing signs of displeasure over the controversial Bush v. Gore ruling - accusing "W" of stealing the election, bearing phrases like "Hail to the Thief," and "Bush = Crook."
Bill Clinton held his farewell rally simultaneously at Andrews Air Force Base, forcing the media to split coverage between the two events, and draining much of the steam out of Bush's Inauguration.
Considering the happenings leading up to that day in January, 2001, and considering what was to come during the next eight years, it seems only appropriate that it was 35-degrees and raining during George W. Bush's first inauguration.
If life is a journey, and if the vessel for that journey is the numerous events we encounter, Bush's presidency was a hurricane navigated by a battered vessel in a storm rivaling Katrina.
From day one partisanship reigned. On that cold day in the rain, when President Bush placed his hand on that rain-soaked Bible to swear under oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, it was the beginning of a storm that would not cease during his entire eight years in office. The Democrat Party and the mainstream media, from the very beginning, were determined to destroy the presidency of the Texas oil man, and regain control of the government as soon as they could sink their claws into it.
Extraordinary circumstances welled up throughout Bush's presidency, creating turbulent seas, and opportunities for the Liberal Left to launch attack after attack against George W. Bush.
During his presidency the United States experienced a terrorist attack unlike anything we have encountered before. Airplanes were flown into buildings, killing thousands of Americans. Two towers fell in New York City, forever changing the skyline of that city, and forever scarring the hearts of Americans. "We Shall Never Forget" became the rallying cry, and when George W. Bush vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, the nation stood behind him.
Two foreign wars followed, as President Bush attempted to keep terrorism at bay by striking out at the nations that either trained these particular terrorists (Afghanistan); or supported, harbored, and trained terrorists while threatening to use their own weapons of mass destruction against American interests and allies (Iraq).
Al-Qaeda, the organization behind the attacks on 9/11, was pursued and damaged. Saddam Hussein was also dethroned later in Iraq. Attack after attack against the United States was stopped before they were able to commence, while Europe was being hit regularly from London to Madrid, and many points in between. It seemed to be that George W. Bush's hard-line stance against terror was succeeding, or at least here in The States.
The economy was flat during the beginning of Bush's presidency as well, but his tax cuts spurned growth and prosperity for much of his duration in the White House, only to come crumbling down when a housing market collapse, of which Bush warned the Democrats about as they rejected the notion in April of 2001
, created an economic downturn we are frantically trying to remedy at this very hour.
The Bush Presidency also encountered, during the entirety of both terms, hard-ball tactics by the Democrats, which created partisan animosity of the likes never seen before by the American Political System. Spurned by a hostile media, Bush was called a liar and a thief. His every word was scrutinized, and his every action was demonized. Democrats that had voted for military action in the Middle East originally became anti-war activists. Because of Bush's lack of ability to communicate smoothly, he was characterized as a bumbling fool, and the people believed the accusations without taking into account all of the facts.
The Liberal Left created an environment of animosity against Bush by demonizing his every action. Many members of the public lost track of the facts. The resolve on 9/11 faded. President Bush's ratings went from some of the highest approval numbers in history to some of the lowest, and as a result, in 2006, the Democrats gained control of Congress, giving them the opportunity to launch the most sinister attacks against the Republican President yet.
I am in no way saying that everything Bush did, or tried to accomplish, was golden. His Medicare Prescription Plan is mired with more problems than one can shake a stick at. Unfortunately, we are seeing a progression towards accepting government paid medical care, and government dependency programs, that are sure to fail, and unfairly force the taxpayer to pay for the medical care and other benefits of those who, more often than not, don't even pay taxes in the first place. Should the insurance system be changed? Yes. But the change needs to be less government involvement, not more. Government needs to quit dictating how coverage must be applied. Wouldn't it be nice if health care insurance was like every other product in the Free Market System? Why can't we buy plans that fit our needs? How about plans that have only catastrophic coverage? What ever happened to choice? Where is the vestiges of free will that Americans have enjoyed for over two hundred years?
"No Child Left Behind" inserts the federal government even more into the public school system, trying to throw money at a problem that is not about funding, but about curriculum and methods used. This idiotic act, in my opinion, is one of Bush's greatest failures as president. I understand what he is trying to do, but the lessons of history continuously remind us that this kind of government intrusion only worsens the situation, not betters it. Besides, from a Constitutional standpoint, education is a local issue, anyway. The federal government has no business being involved and manipulating the system as they do. Besides, if the public school systems of America really wanted to improve, why don't they just take lessons from the most successful education programs in America and follow their curriculums and standards - - - you know, the Private Schools and Home School groups.
George W. Bush's amnesty ideas were yet another failed opinion, and I am glad he didn't spend a lot of time trying to get passed what he desired to do in this issue. In a sense, his reform of immigration would reward illegal aliens that are able to remain in hiding the longest, and then come out of the shadows once amnesty comes calling. Any illegal alien, be it the stereotype of a Mexican squeezing through a hole in the fence, or an Englishman who has remained here on an expired visa for twenty years, is breaking the law. Bush failed to see that we don't need immigration reform. We need to simply enforce the laws currently on the books. And for those who wish to accuse me of being racist, or hating anyone born in another country that doesn't speak English as a first language, you apparently don't know me very well. I believe that America is for Americans, and anyone that desires to become an American using the proper path to residency and/or citizenship should be rewarded with the opportunities that all Americans have. Illegals, however, receiving special treatment or amnesty, is like spitting in the face of those that have come to this country legally, followed the proper protocol, learned the language, and gladly became a citizen - like my Spanish-speaking, Mexican wife.
President Bush also failed to hold on to fiscal conservatism. His presidency was filled with a habit to overspend the taxpayers money, and implement programs that, though they had good intentions, were nothing more than federal government intrusion into arenas the federal government has no business being involved in. The crowning failure, in this respect, was the stimulus package and economic bailout. Government caused the economic downturn, and for some reason President Bush decided to team up with the Democrats and try to use government to fix the problem. In the end, the government manipulation of our economy through bailouts, stimulus packages, and over-regulation, will sink us deeper into economic troubles, and create a recessionary period that may, in fact, wind up becoming the worst recession since the Great Depression. The Free Market didn't fail us. The government failed The Free Market by trying to dictate to it how to function.
The Bush Achievements far outweigh his failures, despite what the sufferers of "Bush Derangement Syndrome" may spout every time they even hear the mention of Bush's name. George W. Bush always tried to do the right thing, defying his accusers more often than not. He didn't abandon his principles on a number of fronts because his approval rating went down amidst the false accusations of the left, nor did he cower and pull out of the regions where our troops are so bravely fighting because a bunch of media cronies declared it was a mistake. And believe me when I say that on September 11, 2001, we had the right man in office.
President George W. Bush encountered in his presidency the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor in 1941. He bravely declared that ". . . the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts," shortly after the attacks occurred. He also stated that he would go after governments and organizations that trained and supported terrorism while doing whatever it took to prevent another attack like 9/11 from ever happening again (or at least during his presidency).
Bush didn't hesitate to put certain wartime actions into place. He enhanced the interrogation of terrorists, using techniques that saved thousands of lives, yet remained humane and were far from being torture when considering the techniques being used against Americans and allies by Islamic terrorists in the Middle East.
He took full advantage of Guantanamo Bay, making use of the prison to hold dangerous terrorists, and receive information from those prisoners that would save American lives. Technology was taken advantage of as well, allowing the U.S. Government to monitor phone and internet activity that would help them catch terror plots before they could come to fruition. This was achieved through many methods, including through the means of wireless eavesdropping, e-mail scanning of particular phrases or words, and heightened security at airports and federal facilities. This saved American lives, though we may never know exactly how many thousands of lives were actually saved by the President's actions. One thing is for sure, however. These are exactly the actions a president must take to keep a country safe and secure, and I believe that these actions by President Bush are precisely what kept us safe and prevented further terrorist attacks.
Through these methods crucial intelligence was obtained, some with the help of waterboarding, a technique which simulates drowning while never placing the recipient in any real danger. Many have debated on whether or not this is a tactic of torture, and I tend to think that it is not. Despite the answer to that question, which varies depending on whom you are talking to, the tactic has only been used three times
, and with results that saved many lives - an argument I think greatly justifies the use of the interrogation method. For those that proclaim that this method is indeed torture, after considering the methods used against Americans by Islamic Jihadists, also remember that in a time of war sometimes the tough decisions must be made to protect American lives, and this is one of those decisions - a decision, once again, that was made only three times, and was used on the most hardened al-Qaeda terrorists that in the end saved numerous American lives.
In the face of the growing myth of Global Warming, President Bush also had the strength to recognize the hysteria for what it was, and he refused to sign on to the disastrous Kyoto Global Warming Treaty. Now, partly due to Bush's decision, which delayed the world from jumping head first into the man-made global warming lie, many scientists that originally jumped on the bandwagon of Global Warming have now recognized the falsities of the Gore's pseudo-science, reconsidered their position, and the support for the environmentalist-led agenda is waning. This does not mean, mind you, that I believe we should not be good stewards of the planet. However, I do not worship "Mother Earth," nor will I force my fellow citizens to jump on ridiculous environmental legislation that hurts more than helps in the long run. Besides, the facts are the facts, and in the last decade we have been experiencing a natural cycle of cooling, worldwide, after a natural cycle of warming happened prior. These warming and cooling phases are simply the result of solar flare and sunspot activity (combined with many other natural factors), and are hardly caused by our meager, less than one percent, contribution to worldwide greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - and like it or not, there is nothing we can do to change the course of global climate temperatures - no matter how much we believe we can.
During the Bush Presidency the United States also remained ready whenever disaster struck anywhere in the world. His presidency is filled with decisions to assist the fight against AIDS here and abroad while also providing relief for Tsunami victims, and earthquake disasters. American Troops, while keeping this nation free and protected during the last eight years, were also indispensable when it came to providing the world with help and support in the most dire times of need. And when such disasters struck here in America, Bush was also eager to deploy federal resources where and when allowed to by the U.S. Constitution. However, one must remember that the federal government cannot, by law, intrude on the states unless requested to do so - which was part of the problem with Katrina. No matter how ready the federal government was, they could not act until requested to do so by the state's governor, which is a part of the reason for the delay in FEMA's involvement.
One of George W. Bush's greatest accomplishments is The Surge. After "Misunderestimating" (to use one of Bush's cockeyed words) the enemy in Iraq, and going into the region with far too few ground troops, The Surge turned around a war that, though originally supported by a majority of Democrats in the beginning, had been unpopular to a broad segment of the American Public. The war was being lost, it seemed, and casualties were mounting. Contrary to popular belief, Bush always listened to the generals on the ground, but he had been listening to the wrong ones. When The Surge finally came into play, the tide turned in Iraq, the Iraqi government began to take more initiative, and now as Bush's second term comes to a close, we have essentially won in Iraq, and are now slowly beginning to pull troops out of the region - many of whom are being re-assigned to Afghanistan so that the loose ends in that conflict can finally be resolved.
I believe that George W. Bush will be looked upon favorably after the hysterical lies and myths propagated by the loony left fades, and the facts begin to surface. As the world we live in recognizes more and more the true nature of the enemy we face in Islamic Terror, Bush's decisions, that many believe held at bay any more terrorist attacks, will be seen as the right decisions - decisions that kept this nation safe from further attacks. Regardless of what the left continuously proclaims, I believe that Bush always tried to do what he thought was the right thing to do. He has visibly aged during his presidency, which is evidence that being president of the greatest country on God's green Earth is not an easy job. To be honest, I am sure he was happiest while mountain-biking away from his oval office.
And as this chapter in American History approaches its closing, Bush's final speech was one of his best. He addressed those that opposed him. He explained how his decisions always centered around keeping this nation safe from another 9/11. Bush never gave in to the Washington cockroaches. He remained steady in his resolve. And through it all, he never allowed the illusion of power to cloud his decisions. He recognized, after all, what the Presidency of the United States is truly all about. He said it best when he called it the "Privilege of a lifetime."