As a member of the small minority of Americans who admire and respect President George W. Bush, I wish I could personally thank him for always putting our country first during the last eight years, regardless of the consequences to him politically and personally.
The following is an excerpt from a tribute to Mr. Bush, which was written by Mark Impomeni, a blogger for AOL News Political Machine. His post is called "Farewell to Bush: A Decent Man," and I hope you will put your political views aside for a moment and read it.
"George Bush came to Washington pledging to change the tone, to unite not divide. He arrived, however, after a bitter and bruising election contest which resulted in some liberals and Democrats vowing that Bush was not their president, and setting out from day one to discredit him.
But if he could not change the tone in Washington, President Bush did not let the tone change him. Displaying more class and grace than his adversaries combined, Bush never engaged in the hyper-partisan bickering, much to his supporters' chagrin. That is not to say that he did not engage in the political process. He did, and many times outmaneuvered and defeated Democratic opposition, both when it was in the minority and the majority. He did it with a smile, not a snarl. And they hated him all the more for it.
Of all the decisions that President Bush made, the most consequential will forever be those made in the prosecution of the War on Terror – chief among them the decision to invade Iraq. Forged by the September 11th attacks, Bush acted in what he believed to be the best interest of the nation. He relied upon intelligence that previous presidents had relied upon in determining that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and he concluded that his duty as president required him to act to prevent those weapons from being handed over to the people who had murdered 3,000 Americans on home soil.
There can be no doubt that there were mistakes in the planning and execution of the Iraq War strategy. There are in every war. For a time there seemed to be a real chance that the United States might be driven from Iraq in defeat and disgrace. But rather than yield to political expediency, Bush doubled down on Iraq, and unleashed a new strategy commanded by a brilliant new general, that has won the victory in Iraq and validates the original decision.
President Bush would be due a little bragging. But that is not his way. He has celebrated his vindication quietly, meeting in secret with the families of hundreds of the fallen, and personally contacting the family of every single one of the more than 4,000 brave men and women who served him, and the mission he gave them, to the last.
More than any other president in American history, President Bush was the subject of media scorn and derision for most of his term. The mainstream press exposed his secret programs, gave voice to his most shrill critics, amplified questions about his motives, and even publicized forged documents to try and prevent his reelection. Here, Bush was willing to push back from time to time. But he never sustained any of those efforts long enough or loudly enough to overcome the sheer volume of false, misleading, and uncharitable material published against him. But he attended all their dinners, and made the appropriately self-deprecating jokes. Because, ultimately, it did not matter to him what they wrote about him. What mattered was his duty.
No one who was alive on September 11th, 2001, would have thought that the United States would not be attacked again in the next seven and a half years. That it has come to be is all to President Bush's credit, and it will be his enduring legacy. The terrorist surveillance program, aggressive interrogations, Guantanamo Bay, enemy combatants, the PATRIOT Act. All are decisions that Bush made in order to protect the country from further attacks, and all have been derided by civil liberties activists and Democrats as illegal invasions of privacy, shredding the Constitution, and the establishment of a police state. They have all have been unqualified successes. President Bush vowed that another September 11th would never happen on his watch, and he made sure of it.
A true dispassionate history of the Bush Administration will not be written for a generation. Time must pass to let emotion settle out of the mixture. When it is written, it will almost certainly judge George W. Bush to have been a fundamentally decent man who strived to do his duty and did not shirk the responsibilities of leadership, often at great political cost.
He will be remembered as a president who prevented another terrorist attack against great odds, while freeing 50 million Muslims from oppression. And he will be remembered for having received no credit for any of it while he was in office.
There will come a moment, much sooner than anyone now believes, when the country will collectively miss George W. Bush – when an old fashioned leader is required. On that day, Mr. President, you will finally have earned a measure of the respect that you were denied in your years in the White House.
Thank you, sir, for a job well and faithfully done."I would like to add my best wishes to President and Mrs. Bush as they begin their new life in Dallas. May God watch over them and bless them with peace and contentment in knowing they served their country well.