Time Will Tell
January 28, 2008
As I write, the President is about 12 minutes from delivering his final State of the Union address.
This is a momentous occasion. A President departs who, regardless of one’s opinion regarding him, endured the most dramatically challenging eight years the Executive Branch has seen possibly since the birth of the United States. His legacy is for the people he served to determine, but the severe commitment he consistently displayed, both professionally and personally, can never in honesty be forgotten.
We live in a time where political divison and polarization is not only absurdly easy, but it has become standard operating procedure for most citizens. George W. Bush was certainly not a uniter. No one, not even he, has claimed that he accomplished ideological harmony during his terms. What he DID accomplish was to engage the United States, for truthfully the first time, in the defining national challenge for our generation: The War on Terror.
It has not been a perfect, and even less so popular, administration. President Bush’s poor constitutional vision was by no means isolated in Washington after the emotional floodgates of 9/11 were opened. A shortsighted strategy, a triumphal facade, and a downright wrong use of Presidential power were things that the Bush Administration did not need. Indeed, they should never have happened under a conservative president. His efforts to salvage himself politically by compromising on illegal immigration and education reform have disillusioned the core conservative constituency of the GOP. President Bush has left us much to rebuke.
But a fair question is this: Is the United States really a safer place? I thnk the only answer is yes. By virtue of the vices of Presidents long departed, President Bush encountered 9/11 and the War on Terror with a government so massive, so drunk with the wine of federal fiat (and with a citizenry so used to it), that to do what he did simply showed he knew what he could do. It is hardly fair to blame President Bush for the size of the federal government; Policies of revered nationa figures (FDR and JFK coming immediately to mind, but there were others) were what created the behemoth we now call Washington, D.C. We will never have the benefit of knowing what Reagan or Jefferson would have done from 2000-2008. Instead, we know two things: President Bush said protecting America was his first goal, and to that end, he has largely been a success.
Time, and only time, will tell what history says about George W. Bush. I have a feeling it will neither crucify nor deify him. I believe the President will be remembered as a man who did what he could to do want he wanted to do. Time will tell of the legacy of our next president, whom we will choose this year. Let us choose wisely, as I believe we did eight and four years ago.