Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Prism Of History's Distorting Effect

Yesterday, we bade farewell to George W. Bush and had our forty-third consecutive presidential transition without violence and bloodshed. That does not mean there was no ill will, as the crowd of Obama supporters made clear when the outgoing president was introduced, demonstrating bitterness and bad form in what should have been their happiest moment. That notwithstanding, however, it is still a remarkable streak in a nearly 240-year span and something of which every American should be very proud.

Now it is time for the new president to get to work on the business of the nation, but also for the historians to get busy on, well...history. What will future textbooks say about the man who guided us through the last eight years? What volumes will be written, what novels penned? As is the nature of history, only time will tell, but we have an immediate recollection of the past eight years right now. Let's go back and have a look.

It was clear from the very beginning that the left didn't want George W. Bush to be president. In fact, the 2000 election was the closest we'd ever come to not having that peaceful transition of power. The Florida debacle cost the new administration weeks of precious time in setting up shop. In the end, though, Bush prevailed and the opposition got straight to the task of tearing him down at every turn. We saw the evolution of the media from straight news reporters to propaganda propagation tools. We saw the true, venomous natures of actors we once cherished, and we saw something much worse soon after; we saw the hideous face of radical Islam up close and personal.

We saw something much more meaningful in those times, too, something that will linger in my memory for all time; we saw a true leader and a man of great compassion and love for his people and country. We saw George W. Bush for who he really was, something that is not often exposed in politicians at all, much less presidents. And we saw a fierce determination steal over his countenance.

Most of the country suddenly fell in love with President Bush and the swell of pride was palpable, but it was not destined to last long. (I remember seeing American flags on almost every car. That did not last long, either, as I now notice that aside from my own, there are very few cars on the road with a flag waving proudly.) After the Iraq War began Bush began to fade from favor despite having most of congress behind him. Politicians and people alike quickly forgot what brought us together and bitter partisanship once again ruled the day. Yet, days turned to weeks, months and years without another attack on our soil.

While not the conservative that many would have preferred, Bush has a unique Reagan-esque quality that is undeniable; it is the utter transparency of the man. We have gotten to know him as best as an ordinary citizen can know a president in eight years, and it is quite clear that there is nothing pretentious about him. He exudes the image of a favorite uncle.

For all this man has done in his eight years in office, he has been vilified every step of the way not just by political adversaries, but by a media once prized for journalistic integrity. That mantel has long vanished and I doubt it will be making a return in the foreseeable future. All I can hope is that historians do not fall into the same trap as contemporary pundits and take the time to carefully examine what I know to be true; that George W. Bush was a far better president than many are led to currently believe.

Yesterday was indeed an historic one and one that I hope helps to heal the racial divide that so many are convinced still exists, if in their minds alone. With that being said, I will miss President George W. Bush but I am ever so grateful for having lived through his two terms and appreciate his service to the United States of America. I pray that he is remembered through a regular pane of glass and not through the triangulated view of a prism.

God speed, and thank you Mr. President.

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