I am still struggling to actually get my thoughts about President Bush reduced to writing. It will happen one day on this blog, and it probably will elicit a great amount of reader reaction, both positive and negative. I finished Bob Woodward's "The War Within" (go buy it) and have started "Plan of Attack," and my thoughts are even more conflicted than when I started. Woodward gives Bush and his team an incredibly fair treatment, and throughout the book, two traits about Bush are readily apparent: His sometimes maddening reliance on hunches, and his unswerving conviction to do what he believes is best for the country.
President Obama, however, seems to have other ideas about President Bush. We noted earlier this month that the current president seems to enjoy populating his speeches with forests of straw men. During his tour of Europe this week, the Changemaker had this to say about America under his predecessor:
"Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."
That graceful send-off of January 20, 2009, seems like it happened years ago.
Presumably, the Changemaker was referring to Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003. There was of course no mention of Bush's annual appearances at G-8 conventions, his stunning outreach to third-world countries, his friendship with former French president Jacques Chirac, his deference to the U.N. and E.U. vis-a-vis Iran's uranium enrichment program, or his role in including European allies in the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks.
It feels a bit odd to actually be the one defending President Bush.
But listening to the Hopemonger speak, you'd think that President Bush pretended that Europe didn't even exist.
He did a similar thing when speaking before the Turkish parliament on Monday, promising that the United States was not "at war with Islam" and urging "broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect." If he or his cohorts could point to specific acts or statements by the Bush administration that were somehow disrespectful to the Muslim community, that would be tremendous.
Barack Obama seems unable to resist throwing rocks at his predecessor for the awestruck Euro masses. That, combining with his all-too-apparent penchant for intellectual laziness, might be why his approval rating has dropped some 15 points since his inauguration. He's actually become quite petulant.
After 9/11, President Bush could have blamed the whole mess on the Clinton administration's reluctance to take custody of Osama bin Laden in 1998, or the president's nonchalant responses to the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000.
Perhaps, as a McCain supporter, I am still looking for holes in the Changemaker's arsenal. Perhaps my support for the most qualified candidate for the presidency I'll ever have the chance to vote for has turned me into a cynic, looking for any and every opportunity to criticize President Obama.
But I don't think so. I want the president to succeed. I want his enormous stimulus package to do its job. I want the president's withdrawal plan from Iraq to work smoothly, and I support his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. Even if the administration has some socialist tendencies, how can you not root for people to get back to work?
I, along with many others who voted against him, believed that the president could become a truly transformative figure. He has been given an enormous opportunity to lift our country out of a deep recession, claim victory in the longest war in American history, and solve once-in-a-generation problems like energy independence or Social Security reform.
But to this point, President Obama has turned out exactly as I feared: An all-too-conventional liberal Democrat, virtually incapable of working meaningfully across the aisle, beholden to the interests who got him where he now sits, and slobbering apologetically to our European allies for American "arrogance" under his evil warmongering predecessor.