The interesting odyssey of George W. Bush
How History will treat the presidency of George W. Bush remains to be seen; however, it appears that Fate has set him up, as President Teddy Roosevelt would say, to either succeed or fail “while striving greatly.”
Prior to 9/11, it looked like George W. Bush (AKA Bush 43, to separate him from his father Bush 41) would be a fairly ho-hum President. Looking back at what he had said to close confidants, to the speeches he made as Governor of Texas and running for President, one would conclude that Bush had some ideas about education reform, about cutting taxes, about saving Social Security and about immigration reform. But that was about it.
Then, post-9/11, George W. Bush became a man with a mission. National security at home and abroad became his consuming passion – a passion that relegated his earlier agenda to second place at best.
Because the U.S. Constitution assigns the role of Commander-in-Chief to the President and makes the keeping of Americans secure in their persons the primary responsibility of any President, Bush 43 found the shift from his planned domestic agenda to war-time President a relatively easy, if not happy, transition.
In 2004, your humble observer had two occasions of over an hour each to be around George W. Bush, to include two brief conversations. He gives you a firm handshake, looks you right in the eye and has something personal to say. On one occasion, he reached over to my lapel and said, “I see your Silver Star and I want to thank you for your service.” His predecessor would have been clueless as to what was on my lapel. But then, many Americans would be as well.
Indeed, that is one of the downsides of our All Volunteer Force. Fewer and fewer members of Congress have had any military service and yet they serve as the “chief financial officers,” if you will, of our military.
Despite his preoccupation with the War on Terror, Bush 43 has somehow managed, with the exception of Social Security reform, to get Congress to enact pretty much everything he wanted. Of course, it helps to control the House and, to a lesser degree, the Senate. But if Bush puts more emphasis on the “security” aspect and less on the “investment” aspect, he may prevail on Social Security as well. If not, and should the Democrats regain control of Congress, they will have to raise taxes to save Social Security from bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Bush 43 will be back on the ranch saying: I told you so.
President Bush has been seeking a full-blown debate on immigration reform. Now, it has begun. Repeatedly, Bush 43 has said that our economy won’t operate successfully without the labor of today’s illegal immigrants; however, we need to get control of our borders and set up a system that lets us know who is here. But without granting amnesty.
Most illegals are here for honest labor. But some commit violent crimes and then run for Mexico from which they are rarely extradited for trial. For sure, Mexico doesn’t want immigration reform because the money wired back to Mexico from Mexicans in this country, legally or illegally, represents Mexico’s single largest source of income. Tourism and petroleum sales are about tied for second place.
For the Sinistra Media, Bush 43 seems a frustrating mystery wrapped in an enigma; however, two biographies could improve their understanding: The Right Man by former Bush 43 speech writer, David Frum and Rebel-in-Chief by Fred Barnes. They would be surprised, among other things, to learn Bush 43 is a voracious reader of history. Without fanfare, he invites historians such as David McCullough to sit down for private discussions of their books.
It remains to be seen if the hate-Bush-crowd and the Sinistra Media can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, for sure, Bush 43 is “striving greatly.”
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2006. William Hamilton.