Friday, November 07, 2008

A Decent Man, not the devil

Yesterday I saw George W. Bush implore his staff and those working in his administration to assist Barack Obama in a seamless transition. Despite the picture painted of him by Hollywood and the entertainment industry he is not the devil. Bush, like his father before him, is a decent man. Neither were particularly good Presidents in total. In my lifetime there has been perhaps one man who was a good President but even that's debatable... I speak of Reagan, but he had his foibles as well.

Yesterday I also saw a headline in my local paper on the editorial page that said "Now it's Time To Work Together". I just sighed. What about the last eight years? Wasn't that the time to work together? Could the Iraq war, the aftermath of Katrina and a host of other situations have been more successful if the media, the Democrats and the American people "worked together" instead of knee-jerking everything against the President? We will never know. Just declaring Bush a divisive figure in American politics on every newscast does not make it so.

I have my problems with Bush and have chronicled them in this blog. But he, like all Presidents, has a thankless job and Mr. Obama will find out soon enough that it's lonely at the top.

Michael Gerson has an interesting piece at that looks at the decency and humanity of President Bush. I leave you with the final few paragraphs:

Many conservatives view Medicare, education reform and foreign assistance as heresies. Many liberals refuse to concede Bush's humanity, much less his achievements.

But that humanity is precisely what I will remember. I have seen President Bush show more loyalty than he has been given, more generosity than he has received. I have seen his buoyancy under the weight of malice and his forgiveness of faithless friends. Again and again, I have seen the natural tug of his pride swiftly overcome by a deeper decency -- a decency that is privately engaging and publicly consequential.

Before the G-8 summit in 2005, the White House senior staff overwhelmingly opposed a new initiative to fight malaria in Africa for reasons of cost and ideology -- a measure designed to save hundreds of thousands of lives, mainly of children under 5. In the crucial policy meeting, one person supported it: the president of the United States, shutting off debate with a moral certitude that others have criticized. I saw how this moral framework led him to an immediate identification with the dying African child, the Chinese dissident, the Sudanese former slave, the Burmese women's advocate. It is one reason I will never be cynical about government -- or about President Bush.

For some, this image of Bush is so detached from their own conception that it must be rejected. That is, perhaps, understandable. But it means little to me. Because I have seen the decency of George W. Bush.

Good luck Mr. President in your civilian life - I am confident that as Iraq progresses into a successful nation your legacy will progress too.