An open letter to President Bush

Dear Mr. President,

As your second and final term as the President of the United States of America draws to a close, there will many a retrospective done on your eight years in office. Many pundits will offer their opinions and recollections of your administration. In fact, if the opinion polls are to be believed, many in this country will celebrate the end of your career in elected office as a new Democratic administration takes the reins in the White House.

I, however, just want to say, “Thank you.”

Now, I will be the first one to admit that there have been many times over the last eight years when I was upset with a decision you made. I grew frustrated by some of your policies, by some of your actions, by some of your lack of actions. But there is a time and a place to hash all of that out and now is not the time. You are leaving the White House and you deserve the thanks of a grateful nation. So, thank you.

Mr. President, when you were sworn in eight years ago the nation was clearly divided, and that hasn’t changed. You moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the intention of bringing a “new tone” to Washington coupled with “compassionate conservatism.” A hostile Democratic Party and a portion of the country that felt they had been wronged by the 2000 election resolution vilified you from the start. You, however, remained gracious in spite of their attacks. You handled yourself with class and dignity. You represented the office of President with distinction in a political climate that is distinct for its divisiveness. Thank you.

When Islamists terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the nation looked to you to guide us through the coming storm. You stood tall and were not afraid to call evil what it is. You declared a long overdue “war on terror” and, because of the military strategies that have unfolded, have forced terrorists to fight us on their own soil, and not our own soil. We have not been attacked since. In addition, you led our military forces to rid the world of one of the most dispicable dictators in the world, Saddam Hussein. Critics use hindsight to criticize the war in Iraq because no weapons of mass destruction were found, but even the most ardent opponents in Congress were agreeing back then that the intelligence pointed in the direction of Iraq. I don’t know how Iraq will turn out in the end, but based upon the scant media reports given today, our troops have succeeded and the people of Iraq have hope. Thank you.

The Supreme Court is always one of the biggest reasons why people vote a certain way in a presidential election. You swore to appoint justices that upheld the Constitution and did not try to legislate from the bench. So far John Roberts and Samuel Alito have been judges that strict constructionists can, for the most part, be proud of. They upheld the ban on partial birth abortion, ending (hopefully not temporarily) a gruesome and murderous practice. Thank you.

The centerpiece of your domestic campaign in 2000 was a tax cut. The result of the tax cuts was more money in the pockets of Americans, over six years of economic growth, and increased government revenue. To that end you brought a little Reagan, a little conservatism, back to the nation. Thank you.

Yes, thank you. Don’t pay attention to the approval ratings. I firmly believe that if, God willing, this nation remains, in the decades following historians and Americans in general will remember the Bush years with a much more fondness than they do now. Your presidency reminds me very much of what I have read about President Harry S. Truman. He was a president during war and during peace. He made a lot of tough decisions. He overcame stiff opposition. His approval rating was in the tank when he left office for a member of the opposing party to come in. But in the 56 years since he left office the general opinion of Truman has grown greater, and now historians often rank him highly in those presidential lists. I believe history will be kind to you. Where will they rank you? I don’t know. It’s not important ultimately.

The one thing I will appreciate about your presidency more than anything else is this: In whatever you did, whether I agreed with it or not, I am fairly confident that you always did what you thought was the right thing to do. I can’t say that about the guy who preceded you. I don’t know that I’ll be able to say it about the new guy. I say it about you without much reservation. That is an underrated quality in a President of the United States of America. It’s one you have had in spades. And for that, I thank you.

Thank you very much.


Matt Privett
Louisville, KY

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