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Monday, December 29, 2008

President Bush Leaving

One of the problems with being a blogger is that if opens up new avenues to respond to OpEd pieces one does not agree with. In the past, if I didn’t agree with Ms Eileen McNamara, I would EMail her and it would go into some mysterious process. I might even get a response.

Now it is different. I can put out my comments for all the world to see, and mail her, or some other OpEd writer, the appropriate URL. But, then there is the courtesy angle. Is it impolite to object to someone’s OpEd piece in a public forum without having the courtesy to send them your opinion first? Balanced against that is the fact that if I write a letter to the editor it is like doing a blog post, but with less probability of the thoughts appearing in public.

In this case I have decided to go the blog route, since I have been thinking about the larger subject of President Bush's last days in office for a couple of weeks.

On Sunday Ms McNamara's piece, "Bush's No Regrets Tour," was published in The Boston Globe.

Ms McNamara second paragraph asks:
So when the president - he's still the president? -popped up on television, I would repeat what Republicans told Democrats in 2000 after the Supreme Court ruling made George W. Bush president: Get Over It. Snap Out Of It. When he made a cameo appearance to socialize another piece of the economy, I silently counted the days of his tenure, backward.
Of course he is still there. He is our President until noon on the 20th of January. And, perhaps, as Ms McNamara says, he is our worst President ever—although I tend to think that he is not the worst and that James Buchannan and Andrew Johnston are strong competitors for that honor. On the other hand, Ms McNamara does cite a source (Princeton historian Sean Wilentz) and there is also the opinion of Polly Toynbee, a fellow Column writer, from the Manchester Guardian. Further, Ms Toynbee holds that Richard Nixon loses the “honor” in that while he had personal failings, he was a follower and reinforcer of FDR’s economic and social policies for the American People.

Like everyone else, "I blame George Bush" for all that has gone wrong over the last eight years. But, I also realize that after the 2000 election he was never going to be able to play the role of “uniter.” While not as bad as 1860, the bitterness after 2000 was very strong. And, President Bush did some things that I strongly disagreed with, starting with his selection of his running mate.

But, that said, he has done some good things in the last eight years. On balance, I do not see him as our worst president ever.

Ms McNamara quotes President Bush as saying "this isn't one of the presidencies where you ride off into the sunset, you know, kind of waving goodbye."

I think that is correct. He will not be missed by large numbers as he leaves the Nation’s Capital. I think that as a symbolic act he should forego the usual helicopter ride to Andrews and the flight home on the Presidential Airplane.

Rather, he should have his pickup truck brought up from Crawford and parked on the East side of the Capital. He could pay some young man from St Aloysius Church to keep an eye on it Inauguration Day. When the ceremony is over and President Obama is on his way up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, President Bush would escort Laura Bush to the pickup and help her into the passenger seat. He would then walk around to the driver side and thank the young man for watching the pickup and hand him a twenty, or maybe more. Then he would open the door, reach into his breast pocket with his right hand, withdrawing a tin badge, which he would drop onto the rode. Then he would swing up into the driver’s seat, close the door, start the engine and drive off, heading south, across the Frederick Douglass bridge, onto I-295, then on to I-495, over to I-66 and then on down to Texas.

It would be good symbolism.

For a slightly different view, here is the Blog Post of military historian Mark Grimsley, an avowed Democrat and someone who did not vote for Governor Bush in 2000. He starts out saying: "I’ve never been a fan of President George W. Bush. I don’t expect ever to be." But, he is not a bitter as Ms McNamara appears to be.

Regards -- Cliff

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