Is G.W. Bush Your Homeboy?

13 comments

George W. Bush gave his final address to the nation Thursday evening as President of the United States of America. What a ride it’s been.

Despite an outgoing job approval rating of 34%, an unpopular war, an ailing economy, out of control spending and some policy I did not agree with – I still can’t help but like the man. And I think most Americans feel that way too. He’s just a likable guy.

Sure, there are the true haters out there. And they will hate Bush no matter what he does – they always have. And they insist he’s “no, like seriously, stupid” – which shows how like really, really smart they are.

And there are many others who hate Bush like they hate clothes that have recently gone out of fashion – which they verify by checking the cover of Vogue magazine.

And there are some who just differ on principle. And that’s all good in America.

But when it comes down to it, even if you disagree with his principles, I think most reasonable folks recognize that George W. Bush has had one of the most trying presidencies in history. He’s accomplished and overcome quite a bit.  And he did so with sincere intentions of doing what was best for America.

It’s easy for all of us to sit back in retrospect and blame him for mistakes made – but such exercises, while sometimes helpful, are often unfair.

I remember going into the Iraq war and shortly after it. Most Americans supported the effort. But wait, we were only supporting it because we thought there were WMD…right?  Not so.

Actually, in May of 2003 – two months after the invasion – a Gallup poll showed that 79% of Americans thought the Iraq War was justified, with or without conclusive evidence of illegal weapons.

And lest we forget that the president can not wage a war without congress. Congress voted to approve the use of force in removing Saddam Hussein by an overwhelming majority (296-133 in the House and 77-23 in the Senate). And they indeed had access to the same (now known to be faulty) intelligence that Bush had. Further, every single major intelligence agency in the world believed the same faulty evidence that our CIA did. Shoot, even some of Saddam’s own military leaders believed they had WMD!

Our country, despite the usual protesters (who would have protested no matter what the evidence was), was behind Bush. I think if we’re honest with ourselves, most all of us believed it was the right thing to do at the time. But we had the luxury of letting somebody else make that ultimate decision.

And I’m tired of all the accusations that Bush intentionally lied, broke the law, or otherwise abused his power.  Let the man rest. All investigations have turned up zero evidence of this so give it up. You guys can all join the crowd who are still insisting that Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Anyway, then when the war didn’t go exactly as planned (I know that’s very unusual for that to happen with a war), we all bailed and left George holding the bag.

It’s like we rallied around with our pitchforks and shotguns, told George to lead the way, and then all headed down to confront the evil sheriff – take back our town. But then things got tough. And our crowd slowly dwindled as John jumped on his swift boat, Joe had a train to catch, and Hillary slithered off to swing from the saloon balcony and jeer at ol’ George for how silly he looks holding that pitch fork all by himself.

[Sean, who hailed from Penn, snickered along from behind the evil sheriff.]

The way we all acted reminds me more of American Idol auditions than American Ideals and ambitions. So perhaps I shouldn’t be all that surprised.

But not all of us left the trenches. Many stayed in the trenches to try and bring some good from the evil that is every war. We can have a legitimate debate on whether it was the right thing to do in the first place. We can debate what could have been done better. We can admit we would have acted differently knowing what we know now.  We can apologize for the mistakes we made. And we can further debate what we should do going forward.

But the way so many Americans have been so quick to throw Bush under the bus here at home and abroad is cowardly. I hate war and I hate that so much pain and suffering has come from this one.  But I won’t throw people under a bus that we all started rolling along together in the first place.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about, dang it.

What I wanted to say is that, in a way, Bush is my homeboy. In the way that anyone who has fought along side you in the same trenches is your homeboy.  That’s how I feel about W.  We all pick on each other, poke fun at each other, criticize each other in our own trench. But in the end we’re in the same trench and we’re shooting at the same bad guys.  And there’s a bond there that transcends our personal flaws and mistakes.

When I think of George W Bush I still think of him standing on the pile of rubble on 9/11 and shouting to the rescue workers:

“I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” – G. W. Bush

I know that’s highly selective considering all that has happened since. But that’s what stands out to me and always will.

I don’t agree with everything he’s done by any stretch. And I’m not defending his mistakes – he’s proven man enough to do that himself. But I do believe he tried his hardest. He’s never once shown to be a phony and we elected him for who he was. And he gave his country his best and did it the best way he knew how. That makes him a patriot.  He’s accomplished quite a bit of good.  And the point of this post is not to argue that here.  But I think history will show that in time.

He’s not a complainer. He’s not a whiner. He doesn’t point fingers. He’s a real man.

I don’t know if the war was just (knowing what we thought we knew). Obviously knowing what we know now we wouldn’t have waged it. And the more I have grown in my faith, the more I probably should have scrutinized supporting it in the first place.

But I can’t imagine having to have made such a decision with the safety of our nation and the world weighing in the balance.  I didn’t have to.  George W. Bush did.  I can at least admire him for making it and doing the best he could.

I think he said it best in one of his final quotes as President:

“There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.” – George W. Bush

He did indeed made the tough decisions – he never had the option to vote “present” as President. He made the toughest decisions in the world. And he stood by them, for better or for worse and made the best of them.

And as he walks off into the sunset he can do so with the same swagger he walked in with – although the swagger is definitely a bit humbler, a little slower, and much wiser now.

I don’t care what anyone else says or how much I disagreed with some of your decisions.  Yer my boy, George!  Thank you for your service.

13 comments Add comment

Lindsay January 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm

George Bush was the first president I got to vote for so he will always be special to me. I honestly feel like he did what he felt was best for the country and that was his job. He was a great leader after 9-11 and he kept America safe throughout his terms. People elected him to a second term even after the war became unpopular so i think a lot of these “haters” knew deep down that he is a great president.
History will show that he did a lot of great things for this country. He might not be the best president we’ve had but some people have already said he was the worst president and i guess they don’t remember Carter was president too and already takes that spot.

Andrew Hedstrom January 16, 2009 at 12:54 pm

As a side note, President Bush released this yesterday:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2009/01/20090115-1.html

He’s declaring Jan 18th the National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

If only our President-Elect could understand the importance of the Culture of Life!

JD January 16, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Agree. He stood by his principles in the face of tremendous political pressures. Very rare for any politician.

Phil January 16, 2009 at 1:38 pm

No, George Bush is not my homeboy.

Bush came into office, in my opinion, with no ideaologies. Bush says himself that he spent most of his younger years hanging with the jocks and poking jokes at the intellects. Somewhere down the line he admits to finally paying more attention to the intellectual crowd. Through the influence of the Rumsfeld’s and the Chaney’s he latched on to neoconservatisim – and in my opinion his legacy will be attached at the hip to this ideaology. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it works. Maybe in retrospect, trying to spread *American* type democracy in a region that has been fighting wars for 1000’s of years maybe wasn’t the best idea. But he won’t admit to that. You will notice in his latest ‘legacy’ tour or exit interviews, addresses, etc. he won’t own up to any mistakes that he has made. They call them ‘underestimations’ (as Cheaney put it) not mistakes. He is clearly trying to steer his legacy towards something that it is not. Only problem is he won’t admit that he done anything wrong. He speaks of how he should be commended for making the tough decisions of the past 8 years. But isn’t that what a President does? It is to be expected, not celebrated. Maybe in 30 years people with see GW in a different light. But that light will only begin to take shape when he starts to confront some of the bad decisions he made outside of the neoconservative vaccuum. 4000 US troops dead. 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead.

Phil January 16, 2009 at 1:51 pm

And he still thinks that the Iraqi people consider us their friends (taken from his speech last night). Even after having two size 8’s throown at his head. It’s time to vacate the vaccuum.

Whether it be his Katrina response, torturing war prisoners, economic downfalls, or of course the war in Iraq, Bush has made some questionable decisions that may take years to live down. This is what his legacy will be based on. This is why his approval rating upon departure of the Presidency is the lowest since Nixon. But he will have years to set the record straight.

When GW finally admits to some of these mistakes is when people will truly begin to see all that he has accomplished. More aid to Africa. Protection at home. Etc.

Maybe 30 years from now, we may view neoconservatism differently. But evidence does not support this idea right now.

The whole point of all this is that I agree that GW Bush is a good person. The core problem, in my opinion, are the ideologies of others that he so strongly supported. We need a president that is an independant thinker. Someone that will not only make the tough decisions, but make the right ones.

L January 16, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Phil,

There’s a quote from the movie, Charlie Wilson’s War, that I think applies well to your argument.

Gust Avrakotos: There’s a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse… and everybody in the village says, “How wonderful. The boy got a horse.” And the Zen master says, “We’ll see.”

Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, “How terrible.” And the Zen master says, “We’ll see.”

Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight, except the boy can’t ’cause his legs all messed up. And everybody in the village says, “How wonderful.”

Charlie Wilson: Now the Zen master says, “We’ll see.”

The point? In life, we don’t have the luxury of retrospect – until it’s too late. We must make the best decisions we can with the information we are given. Obviously – the president has more information than any of us realize, and when we were first attacked on OUR OWN soil, Bush had to make a decision. Whether it was good or bad – only time could tell. It is a great shame, a tragedy, that so many people have died in Iraq – yet, had we not gone in, what would’ve happened? We don’t know.

You call Bush a neoconservative. But this is a democracy – and he was elected with the same ideologies that the majority of Americans agreed with at the time of election. Just like now, Obama has been elected with ideologies that the majority of Americans believe in (even if many of us staunchly disagree).

Dennis January 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm

I wouldn’t say that President Bush is my “Homeboy” but I do admire and respect him, I have had the great pleasure of meeting him and he was very impressive. I have also been around him on numerous occasions as a military photographer and observed him in action. He is a fine and good man that made some very difficult decisions and I will miss him as my Commander-n-Chief but I will not miss all of the leftist abuse hurled his way for the past eight years it really gets old. But hey the good side of it (if there is a good side) is it is our turn to watch the new Commander-n-Chief and to scrutinize his every move, but as a Conservative and a member of the Armed Forces I will respect my President and follow his orders unlike the looney left had for the past eight years!

So good bye and good luck Mr. President, God Speed. And if the word God offends anyone then you will just have to get over it.

Phil January 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm

L – no, we don’t have the luxary of retrospect. But I’d say that is a weak sauce argument. It’s like saying maybe someday this current economic collapse will prevent us from an even GREATER econmic collapse. Good job GW! Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Bush is solely responsbile for the collapse, I am simply giving you an analogy that sometimes we do in fact know now whether or not sound judgement was indeed used. And it is the opinion of many that the judgement was poor. Read Scott Mcclellan’s book and decide for yourself.

The whole point I was trying to make was that Bush was not a neoconservative (I believe) until he was unfortunately blessed with the ideologies of those he surrounded himself by.

The point is, Americans would NOT have voted him into office in the first place had he come out and said “My goal is to spread Democracy to the Middle East by invading Iraq”. Remember, we invaded Iraq for the supposed safety of our own people, ie. remember the whole WMD theory. But yet Dick Cheany admitted just a few weeks ago that we would have invaded anyways based on their ability to produce WMD, irrespective of whether or not they had any.

My whole point is that Bush is a good person I think deep down. I am agreeing with Matt. But I think that he is a poor decision maker and he has a problem with facing the reality of his 2 terms. But I think he is starting to get it. He definitely seems more humbled then ever these last days.

Phil January 16, 2009 at 3:03 pm

And just for the record, although I don’t consider Bush my “homeboy”, I do respect him as a man. Yes, his years in the house have been tough. Obviously I don’t agree with his judgement on many issues.

In actuality, I feel sort of bad for the guy. He has a long uphill battle fighting a sub-par legacy ahead of him. Hopefully the outcome of his fight will solidify his legacy in a light that is more well respected than Nixon, sheesh.

Cindy January 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I was prepared to comment but realized that Phil has already said it all.

Jorge January 19, 2009 at 9:17 am

As someone who´s not from the U.S. but happen to have lived a few years in the country I think it´s really appropriate to remember Donald Trump´s sentence: “America´s lost a great opportunity to get the world´s support. GW if not the worst president in history is the second”.
And there´s something else too…”every single major intelligence agency in the world believed the same faulty evidence that our CIA did”??? Check your sources..the rest of the world (except the U.K.) was against the invasion in Iraq.
GW is the perfect example of how the government can lead the population to wrong and absurd conclusions.
And I say all that…being a catholic..not a muslim if that´s what many might have thought.

Matthew Warner January 19, 2009 at 10:26 am

Just because America made some mistakes and is disliked by parts of the world does not mean the rest of the world was right. So let’s not pretend that they were some how more knowledgeable, wiser, or smarter than we were on this thing. They each had their own selfish (less noble in my opinion) agendas for not going into Iraq AND they offered NO alternative solution other than the same-old-same-old (which was obviously not working) to get Saddam in line.

You can criticize the US for what we DID do, but at least we were willing to DO SOMETHING – which is much more than most of the world.

Also, I’m not sure why you’re telling me to check my sources – every major intelligence agency DID believe the same faulty evidence that the CIA did. What sources should I check on that that say otherwise?

Oh, and Donald Trump is wrong about GW – just as he is wrong about many things.

Jack du Toit January 20, 2009 at 10:14 am

I love this blog. The two taboo issues, Religion and Politics, take center stage. *sits back and watches* No opinion on the Bush thing, because I’ve never met the guy. No opinion on the war, because I, nor most Americans, know anything about it. Keep at it, though. Interesting stuff in this discussion.

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