Thursday, January 15, 2009

A president's farewell

I felt sorry for him as he approached the lectern with a sheepish smile.

As Kissinger reminded Nixon, history will treat him better than his contemporaries. His policies precluded another attack since 9/11. To conclude otherwise is to posit that the other side simply stopped trying to harm us after 9/11.  The President deserves credit and at least grudging acknowledgement from his political opponents -- for stalwart efforts to fight terrorism and protect Americans.  

I'm reminded of another parallel with Nixon. Richard Nixon asked readers this question in one of his later books: if America does not lead in this world -- who will?

I repeated the question in one of my columns and a rebuttal came from a letter writer who declared that the correct answer to this question is -- the "leaders" of other countries.  Unfortunately, the world has always been replete with 'leaders' like Stalin, Hitler and Hussein that refuse to back down.  

This President did not have the luxury of presiding over a relatively peaceful world where "constructive engagement" with rogue nations -- or recalcitrant allies -- would've been the wise course. The safety of American citizens has been this President's overriding concern.  That fact will endure as a positive part of his legacy, even if the Iraq invasion does not. 

George W. Bush
Finally, his administration failed to stem the profligate federal spending we have seen during the last eight years -- punctuated with a new drug program we can ill afford; but that's a trend the new administration appears destined to continue.