On FOX NEWS SUNDAY, President Bush gave a reflective interview about his last eight years in office which was both predictable as well as somewhat surprising. A pleasant surprise was Bush's father, also a former president who was present for a portion of the interview. Regardless of your politics it was pretty good Sunday talk TV.
It has been a long strange ride for the younger Bush who seemed to accidentally become president due to a number of unfortunate bad breaks for Democratic Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 election. Despite losing the popular vote by more than half a million votes to Al Gore, Bush became president due to the electoral college vote breakdown. Gore had the misfortune of losing his home state of Tennessee, despite winning the popular vote elsewhere, which was another strange quirk as well as losing the normally Democratic leaning West Virginia which even supported losing efforts by Michael Dukakis in the past. The controversial close vote in Florida where many older voters were confused by the ballot, third party candidate Ralph Nader, as well as a felon list in which persons with similar names were disqualified from voting because a Social Security checklist was not used were only a few of many problems that all might have cost Al Gore the election and made George Bush an accidental president.
But regardless of the cloud of that hung over the 2000 election results, shortly into his term in office, the President Bush faced the huge 9/11 terrorist crisis, and did manage to receive great public unity and support for a time. But it was the elective war of Iraq as well as the collapse of the economy late into his second term that will probably be most noted in many history books about the legacy of the Bush presidency. Bush did manage to actually narrowly win the 2004 election over lackluster Democratic candidate John Kerry, with an electorate still trusting enough of his efforts to combat terrorism as well as a bit reluctant to change presidents in the early years of the Iraq War. By 2004, Bush hadn't totally burnt out his welcome yet. But his 2004 win was pretty narrow indeed, compared to far bigger re-election wins by modern presidents such as Nixon, Reagan or Clinton.
For some reason, the quickest thing for President Bush to call to mind was his support for torture of terrorist suspects today on the Fox program today of all things. And Bush seemed to most miss the command over the American military. But he did voice support for the cabinet choices of Barack Obama, and noted that he personally likes the guy. The older President Bush seemed to voice some approval and sign of public support for Obama as well, and seemed to wish that that many Republicans would remain on the sidelines when they don't agree for a little while and give Obama some room to pull the country together.
Certainly liberals like me can find many things that they didn't like about the Bush presidency. But the bottom line for me was that I feel that he was never intended to be president, that his election was a quirk and a complete mistake, and he was well in over his head. A business friend of mine once told me that Bush's "feet just didn't reach the pedals of the presidency", which was as fine of a summation as I can think of. But Bush did have a few moments of strength after 9/11. But other problems such as the economic crisis and Iraq will leave a real mess for President Obama to address and remedy that might linger on for years.
But Mr. Bush did leave us with many moments of laughter as he butchered the English language, but he actually strikes me as a pretty good guy if a person knew him as a friend. I certainly may not agree with his politics, but the guy was darn funny at times. I can't say that I'm sorry to see him go. But thanks so much for the laughs George, if anything.
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