Last Days of the Bush Administration

Posted by Katherine | January 16, 2009 – 10:54 pm
Bush’s farewell address
[**** j a z z z i *** / Flickr]

Yesterday, President Bush bid farewell to a nation that apparently is largely glad to see him go yet mostly feels he’s a good person.

A few end-of-administration reflections on his speech, his legacy, and some burdens he passes to Obama:

Miranda, a stay-at-home mother of three, feels many of Bush’s critics have the advantage of hindsight. The speech got her thinking about why she likes him so much.

I have to say, I’ve always really liked the guy. He seems so honest to me. I found his words comforting and reassuring, his eyes always kind. I could trust him. His mispronunciations and bad grammar, came across, to me, as him being real. I like that about him. […]

I guess, I just want to say…President Bush I think you are an awesome man. I admire your strength to stand on the choices you made, your courage to lead our country and I am thankful for the honor in which you served the United States of America. May God bless you!

Sublog was somewhat distracted during the speech because his daughters were acting up, but what he saw “reaffirmed” his “belief that while Bush has been an imperfect president, he is a decent man.”

One thing I’ve been especially impressed by is his refusal to engage in the sort of pettiness that marked the final week of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Clinton signed off on hundreds of new rules on everything from ergonomics to arsenic standards, setting numerous regulatory stink bombs that Bush would have to defuse. Clinton also put the political ‘no taxation without representation’ DC license plates on the presidential limo, making Bush the bad guy when he removed the inappropriate statement.

Bush has done none of that. Quite the opposite. Even Obama aides are saying the White House has helped made this a very smooth and orderly transition.

Alan Pavlik lives “one block north of the Sunset Strip.” He felt Bush’s speech sounded like a triumph at the end of a red carpet.

Out here in Hollywood, just after the Golden Globe Awards and a few weeks before the Oscars, many of us thought it had the ring of an acceptance speech, even if there was no award. He was explaining to a stunned and grateful audience how he achieved greatness.

Joanne Bamberger is a probutcool progressive mom and political analyst in the DC area. She had trouble wrapping her mind around what Bush was saying.

[I]f there was any value in the speech it was this: it should remind us of the importance of refusing to allow this delusional revisionism to stand.

I was genuinely shocked by what he said in those few minutes, but I’m not sure why I continue to be. What would make me think that all of a sudden he would realize that maybe he ought to apologize to the nation? Maybe ‘fess up that he made some mistakes? I suppose when you’re a president whose world view is so narrow and simplistic, it’s easy to think you’ve done a great job and nearly impossible to acknowledge that your actions were anything other than pure.

Faithful Progressive had a similar feeling of disorientation watching the address.

Talk about a truly surreal disconnect–I watched the farewell speech of President Bush and the Iraq War documentary No End in Sight on the same night. […] During his Presidency, he absolutely did not do what he claimed to have done […]

He did not “do what he could to keep the US safe.” Instead, he lied about the reasons for the Iraq War and falsely used 9/11 to invade Iraq. It is hard to imagine something more disgraceful than using September 11th for false purposes. But President Bush did exactly that. In so doing, he allowed the real criminals who attacked the US to escape and re-group.

Then he failed to listen to numerous people who tried to make him understand the implications of what he had done and how to make things better for our troops and the Iraqi people. He ignored them all for over three years.

Observations on America’s APSJ also resists the idea that Bush kept America safe.

There seems to be a general consensus in the mainstream media that, whatever one thinks of his presidency overall, President George W. Bush indisputably kept us safe from terrorism after 9/11. […]

Whenever I hear these claims, I think of an old joke, whose details I can’t recall, but which goes something like this: Two friends are walking down a city street talking. One of them stops on every corner and spins around three times. Finally, his friend asks him “Why are you doing that?” “To prevent tiger attacks” he responds. “But there are no tigers in the city!” the friend says, to which he replies “Works pretty well doesn’t it?”

The joke illustrates the often blurred, but highly significant, distinction between correlation (I use the term in the common sense) and causation.

Observations on America goes on to spell out why s/he’s willing to grant Bush some degree of correlation but not causation.

Mooglar works in emergency management in Raleigh, North Carolina. He believes Obama should investigate whether the Bush administration committed war crimes.

The fact that it is easier to prosecute the powerless for trivial crimes than the powerful for heinous ones is not an excuse to give the powerful a pass. In the overall scheme of things, it doesn’t matter that much if a given 7-11 clerk shoplifting a DVD player from Wal-Mart gets tried and punished or not. It matters a hell of a lot if a President who presided over war crimes walks away scot free or not. […]

[L]ook at what the nation gains for the risk Obama takes: a break with and an utter repudiation of the foreign policy of the Bush regime that even Obama’s own election cannot completely make, including Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition, Gitmo, the invasion of Iraq, the “axis of evil” speech, US failure to respect the Geneva Conventions and International Law, the whole “enemy combatants” farce, and disrespecting habeus. Bush’s foreign policy would become an aberration, his acts once and for all judged illegal and thus unrepeatable, a corrupt regime acting outside its authority and thus illegitimate.

Mooglar understands that looking into war crimes might not “help us deal with our current problems,” but he feels the long-term benefits would outweigh any immediate costs.

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  1. 3 Responses to “Last Days of the Bush Administration”

  2. Thanks for the great round up of blog coverage of Bush’s final days, and especially for being the first to link to my new blog. I was beginning to wonder if anyone would ever read it.

    By APSJ on Jan 20, 2009

  3. Not sure I fit the “pro” definition, but thanks for pointing me to all this other great posts!

    By PunditMom on Jan 23, 2009

  4. Thanks so much for including my blog post. I am so excited that you used my opinion!! Very cool!!

    By Miranda on Feb 13, 2009

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