I don’t know how history will grade W’s presidency. Maybe he’ll be compared to Lincoln. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll be seen, as Letterman joked, in 50 years as a visionary who brought democracy to the Middle East. Maybe his name will be eternally jeered like Carter. Who knows? I certainly don’t.
At this stage, I don’t think anyone knows. How he’ll be viewed by future generations largely depends on what happens in our future, long after he leaves office. Only then can anyone objectively judge his success or failure. If I were to guess, I’d say that he’ll have plenty of both.
But that’s conjecture. I don’t know what the future will say.
What I know is for the past seven years we haven’t had a terrorist attack on American soil. I remember after September 11, 2001 that we all expected another imminent attack. It didn’t happen. Say what you will about the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay (and I’d probably agree with a lot of what you’d say), but they were part of a system that kept us safe.
What I know is that in the wake of W’s Afghan and Iraqi Wars, Moammar Gadhafi stopped Libya’s advanced, ambitious nuclear program.
What I know is that no one ever had to question White House interns about abusive relations with the president.
What I know is that the US’s relationship with India (the largest democracy in their region) is stronger than ever.
What I know is that W kept us sane during the anthrax scare post-9/11.
What I know is that W rebuilt the military after Clinton gutted it.
What I know is that W is trying to keep offshore and arctic drilling on the table, even after his presidency is over.
What I know is that seven years ago when we all wondered what would happen to the US financial markets in the wake of September 11, W rebuilt the economy with shoe string, duct tape, spit and twine. In the six years between September 11 and the meltdown last year, the economy rebounded. (And then the housing crisis killed it, but that’s another story.)
What I know is that W destroyed a dictator.
What I know is that W has helped the plight of the AIDS-stricken in Africa more than any other US president.
What I know is that American productivity under W topped productivity under any other president, ever.
What I know is that Bush tried to reign in Fannie and Freddie before the housing crisis.
W isn’t the ogre the media would have you believe. And the W presidency hasn’t been the colossal failure they present, either. I’m not denying his failures. He has them aplenty. But he has accomplished good works too.
For those good works, we should all be thankful. I know that I am.