Last week, America witnessed the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Library and we heard the four other living Presidents say nice things about George W. As a Conservative, it can be easy to focus on the things I disagree with President Bush on, (about 90% of his domestic policies) ranging from No Child Left Behind, TARP, Growing Deficits and Immigration Reform. Growing up in Ireland, you are taught to love Democrats, hate the Republicans and in my lifetime to idolize Bill Clinton. This was no different with President Bush and I regularly heard he was stupid, can’t speak properly, a drunk oh and a War Monger.
I was asked last Thursday to describe George Bush in one word. For me it has to be honorable. Did he get everything right? Absolutely not, however I get the sense he is a true Texas gentleman who is humbled to have served the greatest country in the world, with a strong heart to do what is right. I also think he is incredibly compassionate as witnessed by his love for the men and women who serve the U.S.A . – I don’t think there can be any doubt he truly loves America. However whilst I think it’s extremely important America closed the book on George Bush four years ago, I feel it equally important to pay him the tribute he deserves and I would like to share what I remember about him:
I might be in the minority here but I do and always will miss his speeches. Yes okay, he is no Bill Clinton (yes Clinton is a good speaker but it is always an act), but there is something cool about someone who stands at a podium, smiles, is usually relaxed, wants to tell stories and has a southern drole. He is also very funny, please Click here if you want or need proof.
It is hard to talk about President Bush without mentioning 9/11. I will always remember him for the way he acted post 9/11. He united the country immediately after the worst terrorist attack America suffered since Pearl Harbour and some moments that showed the real man. His impromptu bullhorn speech the day he visited the 9/11 and the historic line – “I hear you, the whole world hears you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon”. I will never forget the moment he addressed Congress after 9/11 and spoke about the badge of George Howard (RIP) given to him by George’s mother. George was a Port Authority Police Officer who lost his life on that tragic day. George W. Bush held onto that badge so that every day he would not forget what happened that faithful day, and its impact on everyone. I remember him pledging to keep the United States of America safe from future terrorist attacks, a pledge he kept for his remaining seven years in office. I will remember him for keeping the economy on solid footing and recovering from two economic problems during his first term – the post 9/11 dip and loss of confidence in travel and also the Tech crash. I also remember him for his straight talking. The story about how he dealt with Yasser Arafat and how the World wrongly demonised him for it. He said to Yasser Arafat that we can deal with anything you say, but just don’t ever lie to me. And what did Yasser Arafat do – he lied and George stopped negotiating with him. The World response was to ignore Arafat’s lies and to condemn Bush for being too hard-nosed and a bully.
Whilst people will have different opinions on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and will think they make up a large part of the “Bush Foreign Policy Doctrine”, he also very successfully dealt with China (currency war), Iran (whilst he did not stop them, he kept them at bay), Africa (where he spread democracy, was and still is a strong fighter of Aids) and enlarged the bond with U.S.A. strong allies such as Britain and Israel. And whilst hindsight is 20/20 vision, he was right about Syria and WMD (as my editor covered here last week). But perhaps the thing I admire most about George Bush is that he had principals and he stuck to them. He did not care about polls (he often said they go up or down but principals are forever), does not care about his legacy, he just wanted to do the right thing. But he is also secure in himself and his legacy in that he has remained out of the spotlight for the last four 4 plus years. He does not feel the need to “hog” the spotlight but still continues to do good work in places like Africa and at home with Laura.
From a conservative, I thank you for your service Mr. President and I sincerely wish you well in your life after politics. I wish you continued good health and every happiness for many decades to come. Take care and may God Bless you and your family.