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President George W Bush's place in history

I'm not sure how many people would agree but I'm going to miss Bush. it's too bad they weren't able to change the laws for someone to serve more terms. His place in history. Terrorists attacked and he kicked some butt thats how I see it. half the states would have been mad at him if he hadn't. I don't know about you but I'm not a very big Obama fan. I can't see the Democrats saving the world like most of those who voted for them seem to think so. I see Obama failing miserably with the financial bomb that has been passed on to him.
I'm no GW Bush fan, but in a 'few' ( 10, 20, 30 etc, how many,  who knows) history may look on GW differently; especially after 911. As for Barak, well just my own opinion, if the times were different, ie semi-peaceful, he would be an exceptional president to lead the most powerful country. But with Iraq & the 'Stan, I believe, IMHO, that John Mc would have / should have been the clear choice. I only hope my I am wrong, and Barak makes an exceptional leader in these VERY troubled times for all...
Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail is columnist Lawrence Martin’s ‘take’ on the Bush legacy vis à vis Canada:

Bush's legacy cuts at the Can-Am core


From Monday's Globe and Mail
January 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST

George W. Bush is already ranked by historians, pundits, scholars, scuba divers and bellhops as an appalling president. His any remaining narcissism has surely been obliterated, so no need to pile on. But in the continental context, there's his impact on Canada. How does he measure up in bilateral terms against other presidents?

The news isn't good. Mr. Bush may well go down as the worst president Canada ever knew. His chief bilateral legacy is something that cuts at the core of the relationship: his introduction of barriers at the border. Europe and Asia have been breaking down boundaries. But North America - as Michael Kergin, a former Canadian envoy to Washington, has pointed out - is "moving in a direction opposite to that of the rest of the world."

After 9/11, beefed-up border security was necessary. Seven years on, much less so. But instead of easing regulations over time, Mr. Bush's Department of Homeland Stupidity has been increasing them, bringing in passport requirements and other security measures. Canada's position was that we can trust one another. But Ottawa's initiatives to create a smart-border system with pre-clearance facilities and other measures critical to commerce have been largely rejected by Washington. The Bush White House has even had designs on introducing fingerprinting at the border.

Other presidents have had their moments when it came to Canada, but not as many as Mr. Bush.

Richard Nixon brought in a 10-per-cent import surcharge in 1971 but, bowing to pressure, gave Canada an exemption. He was reviled by many Canadians but tended to take a hands-off approach to this country, acknowledging that "we have very separate identities."

The Hoover administration brought in the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff, which cut deeply into cross-border trade. But Herbert Hoover was willing to work out a deal involving the St. Lawrence Seaway development that would result in Canada's getting a tariff exemption. Mackenzie King blew the opportunity.

Teddy Roosevelt took a bullying approach to Canada, threatening to send in troops to assert control in a dispute involving the Alaska boundary. Fortunately, he chose to ignore us most of the rest of the time. Grover Cleveland moved to embargo all trade with Canada in 1888; Congress thankfully turned back the move. Ulysses Grant and Rutherford Hayes had designs on the annexation of Canada but never followed through.

Canadian Conservatives won't forget John Kennedy's political interference in a row over continental defence with the Diefenbaker government. JFK adviser McGeorge Bundy admitted in a memo how the administration had "knocked over the Diefenbaker government by one incautious press release."

But Mr. Kennedy was generally admired by Canadians, while Mr. Bush is decidedly not. The list of reasons is long. He started with an oversight in declining, in his landmark post-9/11 speech, to acknowledge the help Canadians provided. His administration blatantly circumvented binding rulings of the free-trade agreement in the softwood lumber dispute. His slim regard for human-rights conventions extended to Canada in the cases of Maher Arar (rendition) and Omar Khadr (Guantanamo).

After launching the Iraq war on the basis of a supposition, Mr. Bush peevishly cancelled a state visit to Canada because Jean Chrétien had decided against joining in that war. As a result of Iraq, the Americans diverted major resources from the fight in Afghanistan, which meant that Canadian forces were left to an extended military mission in Kandahar. Mr. Bush infuriated Paul Martin by publicly pressing him, in a speech in Halifax, to join in Washington's missile defence program.

Mr. Bush's penchant for unilateralism led to his spurning of many collective agreements that Canada had worked for or supported, including NAFTA, the Geneva Conventions, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, the accord on land mines and more. The Bush administration has expanded the arms race most everywhere, including to outer space.

Then there's the matter of its economic management. The U.S.-led economic downturn that's spilling over into Canada is certainly not all of Mr. Bush's doing. But his administration's piling up of record debt and deficits and his enthusiasm for unbridled deregulation have been a major contributor.

With the new Obama administration, there are several issues, including protectionism, for Canadians to be concerned about. But with Mr. Bush's departure, there can only be cause for celebration. We'll soon have someone in the White House driven by reason rather than suspicion. With the reopening of the American mind should come the reopening of borders here and everywhere.


No prize if you guessed, before reading a single word, that Martin would not be kind to Bush.

But Martin does remind us that modern history is replete with rocky Canada/US relations.

The real, big and valid complaint is about “Homeland Security” and the heavy-handed US approach to Canada/US border security. President Obama will visit Canada soon and he will ask for our support in the international arena. We ought to require some show of friendship and trust as a precondition for giving that support – revisiting some US border security practices might be the price he pays for our help.

I seem to recall similar Clinton bashing when he left office.....I don't think history will be that unkind to GW, nor do I think it will embrace his twityness. All in all, a poor communicator.
here is my thought on this.

He took over presidency and 9 months later his country was gravely attacked in the probably the worst ever terrorist act on the USA. How would any one of his critics handled it any different?

I for one do not buy the conspiracy theory either that 9/11 was an inside job.

He had a challenging preisdency and maybe made some good, not so good decisions. My point? It was far from easy to be president during those years.
xo31@711ret said:
I'm no GW Bush fan, but in a 'few' ( 10, 20, 30 etc, how many,  who knows) history may look on GW differently; especially after 911.

Agree with you. Its only with the passage of time that people will be able to look at his time in office with some objectivity. If you look back Ronald Reagan was also derided while in office. And if I remember correctly even Abe Lincoln had his many detractors, including those who hated him enough to kill him. If he hadn't been assassinated his legacy might have been quite different.
Lawrence Martin. 763 words including title, your name, date ,G & M etc. Your weeks work is almost done. Your mindset remains constant. Nothing new here.

President Bush has made it his number one priority to keep Americans safe for which he has been successful. Keeping the US safe, Canada has been safe. Martin Lawrence finds fault with that. Of course he does. Nobody in the US of A cares about Martin Lawrence, or his opinions. That's because Martin Lawrence is a boring and predicable [size=10pt]nobody[/size].

Anyone who does not think that the US/Canadian border must be protected from infiltration of various elements/commodities is without brains.

"With the new Obama administration, there are several issues, including protectionism, for Canadians to be concerned about. But with Mr. Bush's departure, there can only be cause for celebration. We'll soon have someone in the White House driven by reason rather than suspicion. With the reopening of the American mind should come the reopening of borders here and everywhere."

Realizing that "reopening of borders" means more than the borders between US/Canada, Martin Lawrence do you really think President Obama will loosen up our borders?

George Bush is the two term leader of the richest, most powerful nation in the world. Lawrence Martin is the close minded columnist for the Globe and Mail.
From that Lawrence Martin piece:

After 9/11, beefed-up border security was necessary. Seven years on, much less so.

yea since the measures are working, let's scrap them! And if they get hit again, it will be people like Mr Martin asking why there were no safeguards in place..
My views have always been right wing and Republican.

I enjoyed GW the past 8 yrs.

No adminstration is perfect, but considering what has gone on since 2001 alone, he has IMHO done a very well job.

I watched his last press conference today as I was getting ready for work, it was pumped in live on the TV.

As for BHO, time will tell, but I do not have much confidence, but I would imagine he will realise his attempts to be more 'left' may be more difficult then he seems.

Radical islam (and others) will see him as a weak and easy target, and use this to their advantage at every occasion. All those peace promises and negociations intended to be with Hamas etc will be flushed fast, long before they ever start. Many will still hate America and the west no matter what, and if he thinks he can change this, he's got a long row to hoe.

I view the Obama administration simply as a rehashed Clinton one, and with Hillary as 3IC, wish them luck! There is really nothing new here.

Farewell GW
Well, Wes, here is another ‘review’ – this one a wee tiny bit kinder, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Ottawa Citizen:

A failed president

JANUARY 13, 2009 5:05 AM

In the final days of his presidency, it is time -- one last time -- to speak of George W. Bush. He will be gone shortly, and, like Richard Nixon, we won't have him to kick around anymore.

Soon Mr. Bush will be hanging drapes in his house in Dallas and planning his presidential library. He will be considering offers for speaking engagements, corporate directorships and his memoirs, as former presidents do.

But the departure of Mr. Bush is the most morose of any two-term president since a disheartened and incapacitated Woodrow Wilson in 1921. That's because no two-term president of the past century has left office with such low popularity and so little achievement.

Herbert Hoover left a mess, but the smirking Mr. Bush may have outdone even him. He leaves two wars, one getting better, the other getting worse. He leaves the worst economy since the Depression. He leaves a record debt and deficit. Worst of all, he leaves a legacy of incompetence and a climate of anxiety.

Mr. Bush did not create September 11, Hurricane Katrina or the recession, much as his detractors blame him. Americans expect their presidents to play many roles -- head of state, manager of prosperity, national leader -- but they are not authors of everything.

Still, Mr. Bush bears some responsibility for his three horsemen of misfortune. He failed to prevent September 11, he failed to respond to Hurricane Katrina and he failed both to forestall and contain the economic collapse.

Had he listened to his intelligence briefing in August, 2001, he might have thwarted the coming calamity. "You've covered your ass," were his dismissive words to the CIA when it warned him of an imminent terrorist attack. He then went into Afghanistan (wisely) and Iraq (unwisely), the latter with inadequate resources, without real planning, against sound advice.

When Katrina destroyed New Orleans, his administration was paralyzed. A senior official tells Vanity Fair (it offers a damning oral history of his stewardship) that the White House never recovered its credibility.

If he wasn't an intellectual or a visionary, Mr. Bush was supposed to be a manager. He had an MBA from Harvard, didn't he? He had run Texas, hadn't he?

Like Ronald Reagan, Mr. Bush could shed conservative orthodoxy on debt or big government when necessary. In 2001, he inherited a huge surplus generated by a "Goldilocks" economy that was so strong in 2000 Democrats talked of retiring the national debt by 2009.

Mr. Bush's catalogue of failures goes far beyond the economy, Hurricane Katrina or Iraq, which was wrong in execution more than conception. It includes promises to reform immigration and social security, where he tried and failed. Or, to introduce energy conservation and fight global warming, where he tried not at all.

All of this was as successful as creating that enduring Republican majority he'd imagined. That never happened, either; indeed, Mr. Bush leaves both the White House and Congress in the hands of Democrats.

Why was he such a failure? Fundamentally, George Bush was a self-confident soothsayer who knew little, cared little and asked little. He promised to be "a uniter" rather than divider as he divided red and blue America. He invited enemies to "bring it on" but never called his people to a higher purpose or to sacrifice.

This wasn't surprising. A visitor to Austin in 2000 would learn that Mr. Bush was untutored and incurious as governor of Texas, where, constitutionally, the office is a figurehead. He was known more for signing death warrants than legislation.

It is as simple as this: George W. Bush should never have been president. But for an accident of an antiquated electoral system, in a season of unprecedented peace and prosperity when the presidency didn't seem to matter, he never would have been.

He was neither temperamentally nor intellectually fit for the office. He arrived with the least impressive résumé (military, academic, political) of any president since the 19th century. He was content to delegate authority to Dick Cheney, who manipulated him brilliantly, the depths of which we are only now learning.

If you said this in 2000, you were denying his six years as governor, his Ivy League education, or his pedigree. We knew then that Mr. Bush was a reformed alcoholic, a failure in business (beyond baseball) and a laggard in school. He was also a folksy, leaden-tongued mediocrity.

At best, his administration was a missed opportunity. As author Thomas Friedman says, a national crisis of confidence like the Soviet launching of Sputnik sent America into space and then to the moon. September 11 sent America into stores and then into denial.

But it wasn't just a missed opportunity. It was worse than that.

The presidency of George W. Bush was a tragedy for his country, his world, himself and his unhappy place in history.

Andrew Cohen is the author of Extraordinary Canadians: Lester B. Pearson. Email: andrewzcohen@yahoo.ca

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen


Historians, with the advantage of the “time that heals all wounds” will, indeed, find good things to say about Bush – just as Canadian historian Margaret Macmillan has done so much to remind us of Nixon’s good points. But, for now, I suspect, this is about as ‘kind’ as it will get in the ‘mainstream’ for George W Bush.
President Bush may be a failed president in most peoples eyes.  Cohen is focusing on three major events of his administration. There are other failures, but there has been successes. If Clinton had allowed Bin Laden to be taken out when the US had him in it's sights, President Bush would not even had that briefing of Aug 2001.

The title of the piece is "A failed president", therefore Cohen is writing to that theme. Would you expect otherwise? Cohen has the ability, unlike some simple minded columnist I have read, to write a balanced article eg "Bush, a failed president with several achievements".
History may also choose to exonerate him as a 'victim of circumstances'.  Some events, like Katrina, 9/11, and the economy, would have happened regardless of who was steering the ship...

A Failed President?

How about a Failed US Congress, who let their power slip into the hands of the Presidents current and past?

There is MORE than enough blame to go around.
Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Ottawa Citizen, finally, is an assessment of Bush that is flattering:

Dubya was no dummy


JANUARY 13, 2009B
There are enduring caricatures for U.S. political partisans regarding presidents. For the Democrats, Republican presidents are numbskulls, barely able to walk and chew gum, let alone manage any cerebral activity at a university level. For Republicans, Democratic presidents are immoral, sexual reprobates with no female from ages eight to 80 immune from molestation.

And when a Republican “exception” appears (nobody could describe Richard Nixon as dumb), the individual is characterized as evil and immoral. For the Democrats, Jimmy Carter’s born-again Christianity was so profound that he chastised himself for having “lust in his heart,” and Republicans then depicted him as simply a silly naïf.

The problem for Democrats is that Republican depictions of the immorality of Democratic presidents are essentially correct. Whether it be FDR, JFK, LBJ, or (sigh) William Jefferson Clinton of the semen-stained dress , journalists and historians have found an extended string of extramarital activity that their partisans must either forgive, ignore, or depict as personal proclivities of interest only to narrow-minded Puritans. The question is whether their accuracy is 21st-century politically relevant. Still, there remains a segment of the electorate that hypothesizes an individual who commits adultery might well, to put it in the vernacular, have fewer inhibitions about screwing over the interests of the electorate.

Nevertheless, when most of the high-profile Republican candidates for president in 2008 (except Mitt Romney) had married and divorced at least once, often with blithe unconcern for the abandoned partner, one might begin to conclude that personal morality is seen as less connected to public morality. Or that in their search for a paladin, the Republican moralists are willing to swallow personal circumstances that earlier would have gagged a goat (such as Gov. Sarah Palin’s questionable parenting guidance in regard to her unwed teenage daughter/mother).

Thus, while the question of Senator Barack Obama’s personal morality was not an issue, Republicans may well find themselves in the blackened pot commenting on the colour of the kettle in a future election campaign.

Which brings us to the intelligence question.

Intelligence has become the be all and end all of modern life. And indeed, you can do more with intelligence than you can with stupidity. However, you do not have to adhere to the maxim of one conservative commentator, who preferred to be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard, to appreciate that pure intellect and practical politics do not necessarily equate. Was Albert Einstein more intelligent than FDR? Presumably, but how would he have fared as the U.S. leader in the Second World War (even aside from his constitutional ineligibility since he was not born a U.S. citizen)?

What political observers need to admit is that U.S. candidates for the presidency — and those who become president — are significantly more intelligent than the average adult. One does not lead a fractious military coalition as did General Dwight Eisenhower and be nothing more than a smiling grandfather figure. The compilation of Ronald Reagan’s diaries, private letters and early speeches largely published after his death demonstrate a thoughtful, insightful individual far beyond the caricature of a second-rate actor confined to cue cards for any speech longer than, “Good to meet you.”

And the most recent candidate for the dumb president label, George W. Bush, is anything but. One does not obtain a Yale degree in history and an MBA from Harvard without intelligence; he was the only major candidate in 2000 with an advanced degree.

Nor does one learn to fly high-performance jet aircraft with no more qualification than “jock” reflexes; the U.S. government doesn’t give dummies the chance to destroy multimillion-dollar aircraft.

To be sure, “Dubya” has presented an “everyman” persona as an “Aw shucks” good ol’ boy for public campaign consumption — and great electoral success. The Kennedy family is the repository of pretenders to American aristocracy; others need the equivalent of 19th-century log cabin upbringing — so Republicans have ranches on which they chop brush and show manly maleness by shooting unoffending birds and animals.

But separately and privately (in contrast to the self-indulgent announcements by Clinton of what he was reading), Bush has read seriously and deeply during his presidency. An end-of-year article by Karl Rove revealed that Bush in 2006, 2007 and 2008 read respectively 95, 51, and 40 books — primarily history and biography. And this in an era when only 30 per cent of over age 60 males read more than 10 books per year.

In short, excoriating Dubya for ghastly political decisions, e.g., invading Iraq, is legitimate criticism, but terming him stupid makes the commentator look dumb.

David Jones, co-author of Uneasy Neighbo(u)rs: Canada, the USA and the Dynamics of State, Industry and Culture, is a former U.S. diplomat who served in Ottawa. He now lives in Arlington, Virginia.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen


I’m afraid Lawrence Martin, et al, would not agree.

Kudos to the Citizen for bucking the Canadian trend and publishing something at least modestly favourable towards George W Bush.

Not only JFK, but both his brothers. I lost any respect I had, and never regained it for Ted Kennedy after he killed Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969 at Chapaquitic. He did virually nothing to save her let alone call for assistance in a timely manner.

Nothing wrong with liking women, as in FDR's case which was above the board. He did have an affair which Elenor discuvered. His daughter was Anna was a constant companion (unpaid personal assistance), even going to Yalta.

The guy who takes the cake (although not a president) former Democratic US presidential hopeful John Edwards who admitted that he had an extra-marital affair and that he lied about it during his campaign. There was a child, not proved it was his because the gal "refused" the tests.. His wife has terminal cancer.

President George W Bush bids the nation farewell:


President Bush Makes Farewell Address to the Nation
East Room

8:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Fellow citizens: For eight years, it has been my honor to serve as your President. The first decade of this new century has been a period of consequence -- a time set apart. Tonight, with a thankful heart, I have asked for a final opportunity to share some thoughts on the journey that we have traveled together, and the future of our nation.

Five days from now, the world will witness the vitality of American democracy. In a tradition dating back to our founding, the presidency will pass to a successor chosen by you, the American people. Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose history reflects the enduring promise of our land. This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole nation. And I join all Americans in offering best wishes to President-Elect Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two beautiful girls.

Tonight I am filled with gratitude -- to Vice President Cheney and members of my administration; to Laura, who brought joy to this house and love to my life; to our wonderful daughters, Barbara and Jenna; to my parents, whose examples have provided strength for a lifetime. And above all, I thank the American people for the trust you have given me. I thank you for the prayers that have lifted my spirits. And I thank you for the countless acts of courage, generosity, and grace that I have witnessed these past eight years.

This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house -- September the 11th, 2001. That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor. I remember standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center three days later, surrounded by rescuers who had been working around the clock. I remember talking to brave souls who charged through smoke-filled corridors at the Pentagon, and to husbands and wives whose loved ones became heroes aboard Flight 93. I remember Arlene Howard, who gave me her fallen son's police shield as a reminder of all that was lost. And I still carry his badge.

As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11. But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our nation. I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe.

Over the past seven years, a new Department of Homeland Security has been created. The military, the intelligence community, and the FBI have been transformed. Our nation is equipped with new tools to monitor the terrorists' movements, freeze their finances, and break up their plots. And with strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them. Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taliban harbored al Qaeda and stoned women in the streets to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school. Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States.

There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions. But there can be little debate about the results. America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil. This is a tribute to those who toil night and day to keep us safe -- law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts, homeland security and diplomatic personnel, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

Our nation is blessed to have citizens who volunteer to defend us in this time of danger. I have cherished meeting these selfless patriots and their families. And America owes you a debt of gratitude. And to all our men and women in uniform listening tonight: There has been no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.

The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God, and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.

This is the belief that gave birth to our nation. And in the long run, advancing this belief is the only practical way to protect our citizens. When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror. When people have hope in the future, they will not cede their lives to violence and extremism. So around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity. We're standing with dissidents and young democracies, providing AIDS medicine to dying patients -- to bring dying patients back to life, and sparing mothers and babies from malaria. And this great republic born alone in liberty is leading the world toward a new age when freedom belongs to all nations.

For eight years, we've also strived to expand opportunity and hope here at home. Across our country, students are rising to meet higher standards in public schools. A new Medicare prescription drug benefit is bringing peace of mind to seniors and the disabled. Every taxpayer pays lower income taxes. The addicted and suffering are finding new hope through faith-based programs. Vulnerable human life is better protected. Funding for our veterans has nearly doubled. America's air and water and lands are measurably cleaner. And the federal bench includes wise new members like Justice Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.

When challenges to our prosperity emerged, we rose to meet them. Facing the prospect of a financial collapse, we took decisive measures to safeguard our economy. These are very tough times for hardworking families, but the toll would be far worse if we had not acted. All Americans are in this together. And together, with determination and hard work, we will restore our economy to the path of growth. We will show the world once again the resilience of America's free enterprise system.

Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I've 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 of the tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.

The decades ahead will bring more hard choices for our country, and there are some guiding principles that should shape our course.

While our nation is safer than it was seven years ago, the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack. Our enemies are patient, and determined to strike again. America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.

At the same time, we must continue to engage the world with confidence and clear purpose. In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.

As we address these challenges -- and others we cannot foresee tonight -- America must maintain our moral clarity. I've often spoken to you about good and evil, and this has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense -- and to advance the cause of peace.

President Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." As I leave the house he occupied two centuries ago, I share that optimism. America is a young country, full of vitality, constantly growing and renewing itself. And even in the toughest times, we lift our eyes to the broad horizon ahead.

I have confidence in the promise of America because I know the character of our people. This is a nation that inspires immigrants to risk everything for the dream of freedom. This is a nation where citizens show calm in times of danger, and compassion in the face of suffering. We see examples of America's character all around us. And Laura and I have invited some of them to join us in the White House this evening.

We see America's character in Dr. Tony Rehcasner, a principal who opened a new charter school from the ruins of Hurricane Katrina. We see it in Julio Medina, a former inmate who leads a faith-based program to help prisoners returning to society. We've seen it in Staff Sergeant Aubrey McDade, who charged into an ambush in Iraq and rescued three of his fellow Marines.

We see America's character in Bill Krissoff -- a surgeon from California. His son, Nathan -- a Marine -- gave his life in Iraq. When I met Dr. Krissoff and his family, he delivered some surprising news: He told me he wanted to join the Navy Medical Corps in honor of his son. This good man was 60 years old -- 18 years above the age limit. But his petition for a waiver was granted, and for the past year he has trained in battlefield medicine. Lieutenant Commander Krissoff could not be here tonight, because he will soon deploy to Iraq, where he will help save America's wounded warriors -- and uphold the legacy of his fallen son.

In citizens like these, we see the best of our country - resilient and hopeful, caring and strong. These virtues give me an unshakable faith in America. We have faced danger and trial, and there's more ahead. But with the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great nation will never tire, never falter, and never fail.

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your President. There have been good days and tough days. But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of our country, and uplifted by the goodness of our people. I have been blessed to represent this nation we love. And I will always be honored to carry a title that means more to me than any other - citizen of the United States of America.

And so, my fellow Americans, for the final time: Good night. May God bless this house and our next President. And may God bless you and our wonderful country. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 8:14 P.M. EST
That about sums it up.I for one am going miss you George.
Here is yet another critique of the Bush presidency, this one, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail, is by Jeffrey Simpson:

Time will not do George W. Bush any favours


From Saturday's Globe and Mail
January 16, 2009 at 10:19 PM EST

George W. Bush, despite his fondest wishes, isn't going to do a Truman.

In 1953, Harry Truman left office a desperately unpopular president. Today, he is viewed as having been a good president at worst and a very good one at best. The passage of time has been kind to the man thrust into the presidency on the death of Franklin Roosevelt.

The resurrection of Mr. Truman's reputation has inspired hope in unpopular politicians departing office that the perspective of time and the work of historians will change the verdict for future generations.

Invariably, their plea to history is that unpopularity flowed from having made hard decisions that time will make look better. As Mr. Bush said in his final speech, "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."

When tough decisions are bad ones, however, then both contemporaries and historians tend to draw the same conclusions. We expect politicians to make tough decisions, but we hope they will make correct decisions, which Mr. Bush did not.

Just as consequential as the hard bad decisions were a bunch of easy bad ones he made.

For example, he cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, dropping the top marginal tax rate from 39.5 per cent to 35 per cent. He raised the estate tax ceiling to $3.5-million, with the result that the rich got richer. Those tax cuts helped to push the federal surplus he inherited from the Clinton administration into eight years in the red.

He expanded coverage for seniors' drug benefits without appropriating the money to pay for the expansion, thereby adding to the deficit. He did the same thing with education reform in the shape of the No Child Left Behind law: new requirements but not enough money to meet them. He went through eight years and barely used a presidential veto.

These, and many other decisions, were easy in the sense that they let spending rip without having to offend any constituency, let alone any Republican legislators who controlled Congress for most of the past eight years.

Mr. Bush leaves office with his country massively in debt, in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, facing years of huge deficits, with unemployment rising fast, banks and financial institutions tottering, a large trade deficit, an enormous oil deficit, and rising greenhouse-gas emissions.

In the parlance of American politics, the colour red is used for Republicans. It's a fitting colour for a Republican president who gave his country red ink everywhere, on corporate balance sheets, individual bank accounts, and local, state and national budgets.

He departs with the U.S. embroiled in two wars: one in Iraq that's finally going better, the other in Afghanistan that's getting worse. The "war on terror" has not struck the American heartland since 9/11, but terrorist attacks have struck many other parts of the world.

Mr. Bush dismisses charges that his country's reputation nosedived around the world on his watch. It did rise in India and parts of Africa; everywhere else, however, the U.S. is held in less regard today than when he took office, according to mountains of worldwide polling evidence.

Domestic evidence is equally overwhelming. Mr. Bush departs with an approval rating of about 20 per cent.

Mr. Truman's standing was down in the dumps when he left office. China had gone Communist, sparking cries of "Who lost China?" The Korean War was dragging on with no end in sight. Communism seemed on the march. The little man from Missouri seemed incapable of getting a grip on how to stop it. The Republicans had taken control of Congress, and they wanted less government and lower taxes, as always. Time for a change, they cried, after two decades of Democratic presidents.

Mr. Truman faded away to Missouri with his wife, Bess, to live a quiet life. In recent decades, courtesy of much historical review of the record, the end of the Cold War and the deceit of some of his successors, Mr. Truman's reputation glows as an honest, straightforward leader who made tough decisions, all right, many of them correct.

Mr. Bush has been working hard in recent months at improving his reputation, giving interviews and speeches defending his record. He will presumably keep at this work in retirement, hoping for a Trumanesque revival if not soon, then later, perhaps even much later.

Such a revival is rare. The record largely shows that a politician enters history more or less with the reputation he had on leaving office. Whether or not that reputation is deserved is almost beside the point.

You could argue, for example, that the reputations of Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy greatly exceed the actual merits of their records. The labours of critical historians have not dented the public's impressions that these were admirable presidents.

It is doubtful that historians could revive George Bush's reputation. Harry Truman he was not; Harry Truman he will not become.


Jeffrey Simpson has two major faults as an analyst:

1. He is a poor student of history; and

2. His thinking is so narrowly focused on Toronto’s trees that he cannot see America’s (and the world’s) forests.

Neither this economic crisis nor Iraq will loom large with historians in a couple of generations. Other American presidents have presided over worse and have come away with reputations intact.

It is silly, even sophomoric to compare the problems faced by George W Bush with those faced by Harry Truman. Truman faced a foe bent, truly, on destroying civilization as we understand it. Al qaeda and the Taliban, by contrast, are flyspecks that America could wipe out in a thrice were it so inclined – which, thankfully, it is not.

The matters that I think will engage historians are the big issues surrounding the use and abuse of the Constitution: warrantless wiretaps, Guantanamo Bay, executive privilege and so on. These are, for American historians, especially, matters of great and enduring importance.

Another issue that will resonate, I believe, is Bush’s view of American exceptionalism and the unilateralist response it engendered.

On both issues, constitutional interpretation and exceptionalism, I suspect Bush will come out poorly when my great grandchildren read about him.

An Aussie respectfully disagrees with Mr. Simpson.


The Australian via Real Clear Politics.

What Went Right for Bush
By Greg Sheridan

THE final word on George W. Bush's foreign policy belongs, perhaps, to his successor, Barack Obama, who will be inaugurated as president of the US next week. In his most wide-ranging television interview on foreign policy, Obama was asked last week whether he stood by a remark he made in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, which has been constantly shelled by Hamas rockets from the Gaza Strip. Obama said that if his town, where his daughters slept each night, was constantly being attacked by rockets he would want to do something about it.

In the light of Israel's military campaign in Gaza, the TV interviewer asked if Obama still felt that way?

He replied: "That's a basic principle of any country: that they've got to protect their citizens."

Obama was further asked to differentiate himself as strongly as possible from the Bush administration's policy of supporting Israel. Would he instead be ushering in a bold new policy?

Obama replied: "If you look not just at the Bush administration but what happened under the Clinton administration, you are seeing the general outlines of an approach."

Good grief! These words should shock every true Bush hater in the world. But wait, there's more.

Obama's nominee for secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said that the Obama administration would put more emphasis on diplomacy and try to engage Syria and Iran in dialogue. (Just, indeed, as the Bush administration has tried to do.)

But, just like Bush, she and the new administration would not take the military option off the table in dealing with Iran.

On Hamas, she said: "You cannot negotiate with Hamas until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by past agreements. That is an absolute. That is my position and the president-elect's position." It is also one of the most contentious positions of President Bush, Democrat Obama's Republican predecessor.

Then there is the US prison in Guantanamo for terror suspects. Obama has pledged to shut it. Indeed, Bush wanted to shut it, too. But Obama's people now say that doing so might take a year or more, because, like Bush, Obama will face the dilemma of what to do with intractably dangerous people whose countries of origin either won't have them back under any circumstances or would be likely to torture or kill them if they did take them back.

It would be wrong to suggest there is no difference between Obama and Bush in foreign policy. But from the moment that Obama's hawkish, almost neo-conservative foreign policy essay appeared in the US journal Foreign Affairs in July 2007, it has been clear that the continuity in US foreign policy from Bush under Obama would vastly outweigh the change.

Indeed, Obama is the American Kevin Rudd, though, with no disrespect to our Prime Minister, Obama is more glamorous and better looking.

But, like Rudd, Obama is likely to engage in some powerful symbolic gestures while keeping much of his predecessor's policies in substance.

Obama is even keeping some of Bush's key personnel, most remarkably Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and some key Bush administration figures in the National Security Council.

Obama acknowledges the success of the Bush troop surge in Iraq and wants to imitate it in Afghanistan.

In truth, there is no greater compliment in political life than for a political opponent to adopt his predecessor's policies once he gains office.

All this is the opposite of the popular stereotype - parroted nowhere more faithfully than in the Australian media - of a bumbling, incompetent Bush producing a train wreck of a foreign policy requiring profound remedial action. So great is the emotional prejudice against Bush - on display again in a remarkably silly essay by Don Watson in the January issue of The Monthly magazine - that it is almost impossible to get a serious, rational, dispassionate discussion of the Bush foreign policy legacy.

But it is time to take serious stock of what Bush has meant for foreign policy. From an Australian perspective, it is necessary to distinguish different parts of the Bush time in office.

There is Bush's record on issues of special concern to Australia, such as Asia and trade policy, and Bush's incredible increase in aid for Africa. But there is the big question mark over the Middle East and the lack of action on global warming.

It is necessary to distinguish, too, between Bush before 9/11 from Bush after 9/11, also to distinguish the first George W. Bush term from the second, for they were very different.

None of these complexities normally figures in the celebratory denunciations of Bush constantly emanating from pundits and opinion panjandrums across the world.

One important reality check came from Walter Russell Mead, the Henry Kissinger fellow at the US Council for Foreign Relations, in a recent lecture to the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne.

Mead is in no sense a Bush partisan or neo-con. He is a non-partisan voice of great elegance and sophistication in US foreign policy. Speaking just after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and in the midst of the global financial crisis, He asserted that he was an optimist about the international scene. He advanced five reasons for his optimism.

One: Financial and banking crises are a regular and perhaps inevitable part of the capitalist system. But the US and the world always recovers from them and life goes on, generally with a better understanding of the way economies work and often, therefore, a better regulatory system.

Two: The failure of Osama bin Laden and his project throughout the Islamic world. This is most evident in Iraq. The Sunni Arabs there saw the US in a sense at its worst - given the abuses of Abu Ghraib and the mismanagement of the early part of the occupation - and al-Qa'ida potentially at its most appealing as the leader of resistance against Western domination. And yet in the Iraqi Sunni awakening, they rejected al-Qa'ida and chose partnership with the West.

Three: The rise of Asia. Mead rejects the intellectually constipated notion that China's rise equals America's decline. Instead he thinks that Asia is producing numerous big powers - China, Japan, India - that will naturally balance each other and always seek the involvement of the US as a further balancing and stabilising force.

Four: The enduring strength of American soft power. But how can this be? Surely Bush's global unpopularity has permanently ruined America's standing in the world? Not at all, Mead argues. One election, the triumph of Obama, and suddenly the world loves the US again.

European magazines recently at the center of anti-Americanism declare that we are all Americans now and that Obama is the president of the world.

But if anti-Americanism is so easily banished, was it really such a powerful force? Another possible explanation (and here I am not quoting Mead) is that much anti-Americanism is exported from the US itself and reflects not much more than the visceral hatred of Bush by The New York Times class.

The New York Times itself is reprinted all over the world and its attitudes and disdains aped by faux sophisticates from Brussels to Balmain.

Five: The enduring dynamism of US society. No candidate ran in the US presidential election in 2008 as the status quo candidate.

I find Mead's arguments pretty convincing. If there is even a glimmer of truth to them, they suggest that the world Bush created was not altogether and entirely as evil as contemporary reviews suggest.

From Australia's point of view, at any rate, the Bush presidency was overwhelmingly successful.

What are the core Australian national interests that Canberra would always want a US administration to protect? Surely three would be: a stable security order in the Asia Pacific; the integrity of the international trading system; and the health of the US-Australian alliance.

On all three, Bush was outstandingly good for Australia. Bush's success in Asia is simply undeniable, and Rudd, among many others, has often acknowledged it. Michael Green, the former Asia director at the NSC under Bush, has in several important articles collated opinion poll data about the US in Asia. It turns out that Asia is the one region in the world where the US's poll ratings are higher at the end of the Bush administration than they were at the beginning.

This was anything but inevitable. When Bush was first elected, the fear du jour of the international know-alls was that Washington and Beijing would find themselves in confrontation.

Then in April 2001 a US reconnaissance aircraft and a Chinese fighter jet collided and the US plane had to make an emergency landing on Hainan Island. The world held its breath. Here was the confrontation all had feared.

In fact, the Bush team handled the ensuing days of tension, while the Chinese temporarily held the American air crew hostage, with great sophistication, calm and restraint.

It was a sign of things to come. The US-China relationship has never been better managed than over the past eight years. China has grown wealthy as a result of the good relationship. At the same time, Washington's management of Taiwan has been masterful. It has maintained its security guarantee for Taiwan but consciously and effectively reined in its independence aspirations and managed downwards its independence vote.

The biggest success for the US was India, where it negotiated a new nuclear co-operation agreement that will help the transformation of Indian industry, and incidentally do more than almost any single act of government policy anywhere to counter greenhouse gas emissions. But most importantly it cements the new strategic partnership between Washington and New Delhi.

The US also reinvigorated its alliances with Japan and South Korea. Both contributed substantial troop contingents to Iraq. At Australian urging the Bush administration also revived its relationship with Indonesia. All of this is of the greatest possible benefit to Australia and is a powerfully positive framework for the Obama administration to inherit.

On trade, it is true that the Bush administration was unable to complete the Doha round of trade liberalization. But it never walked down the path of renewed tariff protectionism. It never played the protectionist card against China; will Obama be as good on this score? And it negotiated free-trade agreements with Australia, South Korea, Singapore and a slew of South American countries.

On the US-Australia alliance, the Howard government got everything it wanted from Washington, from profoundly important new intelligence-sharing arrangements to unrivalled technological access. These arrangements have been institutionalized and act as great force multipliers for Australia. The Rudd Government has sensibly consolidated them and they will be in place for the Obama administration.

Undoubtedly the hinge point of the Bush administration was the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Many of those who now oppose the military aspects of the US's response supported them at the time. Indeed, The New York Times's Maureen Dowd, admittedly the most air-headed of all significant North American columnists, once wrote of then US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld that he was sexy and charismatic.

Bush's mainstream opponents agreed with his decision to intervene in Afghanistan, and Obama is pledged to stay the distance there. Iraq remains the great divider of opinion.

This is no place to rehash all the Iraq arguments but what is absolutely clear is that everyone involved in Iraq policy, in every relevant nation, believed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. They believed this partly because Saddam wanted them to, and partly because no other explanation of the facts made sense. But it is legitimate to criticize Bush for a wrong judgment on Iraq; it is not legitimate to say he lied his way into war, as Bush critics have to acknowledge that the WMD beliefs were nearly universally held.

The greatest and most justified criticism of Bush arises from the mismanagement of the early years of the Iraq occupation and the dreadful scandal of the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. On the flipside, Bush gets all the credit for the subsequent troop surge, which was opposed by his key advisers and which has given Iraq a chance to emerge independent and semi-democratic.

The other great criticism of Bush is that he failed to wield the brilliant and powerful individuals of his national security team - Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Rich Armitage, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice - into a coherent team.

The second Bush administration was much less internally divided than the first and ran a consultative, cautious, centrist policy, concentrating on winning the wars it was involved in.

If you believe that global warming is the surpassing issue of the day, then Bush did not do enough to combat it, though it is clear the Kyoto Protocol was a flawed instrument for attacking this problem and there was never support for it in the US (remember Bill Clinton had recommended against its ratification).

Bush did neither significant harm nor significant good to the UN. That body's impotence and fatal moral confusion long predate him. But consider Africa. In his first term, Bush tripled US aid to sub-Saharan Africa. That's right, the US under Bush was giving three times more to Africa than it was under Clinton. And the increases kept coming during Bush's second term, so that if Obama continues the rate of increase, US aid will again be doubled by 2010.

Now how does that fit into the conspiracy theories about Bush? Was he pandering to the African-American vote? Was there a secret neo-con objective? Does Cheney have relatives there? Or could it be that Bush was trying to do some good?

It's too early to judge the Bush project in Iraq. But I am sure that, overall, history will judge Bush much more kindly than today's commentators do.


I would note that Mr. Simpson was also a supporter of the Iraq project.

Unlike Maureen Dowd, who's change of direction on the "sexy and charismatic Donald Rumsfeld" lays her open to  male chauvinist suspicion as a "woman scorned", it is difficult to perceive the cause for Mr. Simpson's U-Turn.

E.R. Campbell said:


Jeffrey Simpson has two major faults as an analyst:

1. He is a poor student of history; and

2. His thinking is so narrowly focused on Toronto’s trees that he cannot see America’s (and the world’s) forests.

Neither this economic crisis nor Iraq will loom large with historians in a couple of generations. Other American presidents have presided over worse and have come away with reputations intact.

It is silly, even sophomoric to compare the problems faced by George W Bush with those faced by Harry Truman. Truman faced a foe bent, truly, on destroying civilization as we understand it. Al qaeda and the Taliban, by contrast, are flyspecks that America could wipe out in a thrice were it so inclined – which, thankfully, it is not.

The matters that I think will engage historians are the big issues surrounding the use and abuse of the Constitution: warrantless wiretaps, Guantanamo Bay, executive privilege and so on. These are, for American historians, especially, matters of great and enduring importance.

Another issue that will resonate, I believe, is Bush’s view of American exceptionalism and the unilateralist response it engendered.

On both issues, constitutional interpretation and exceptionalism, I suspect Bush will come out poorly when my great grandchildren read about him.

As I posted in another thread the warrantless searches debate is now a moot point:

"In a major August 2008 decision released yesterday in redacted form, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, the FISA appellate panel, affirmed the government's Constitutional authority to collect national-security intelligence without judicial approval. The case was not made public before yesterday, and its details remain classified. An unnamed telecom company refused to comply with the National Security Agency's monitoring requests and claimed the program violated the Fourth Amendment's restrictions on search and seizure."

The rest of the article can be found here:


The actual report can be found here if anyone is interested: