It was a powerful, poignant yet self-serving farewell address. He is the outgoing President of the United States, it was supposed to be a strong and reflective speech. Accomplishments were cited. Mr. Bush acknowledged that there were some things he would have done differently. He also took credit for making tough decisions that he proudly stated were with the best interests of America at heart. His proudest accomplishment, protecting us from another terror attack, was a highlight of the speech and the list of presidential actions that were taken against terrorism were listed. Mr. Bush also cited his response to the financial crisis, and his belief in the clear line between good and evil as defining aspects of his administration.
So, in the end, we get the same Bush that we've heard for lo these eight years. He's the decider. Unfortunately, each time our country reached a crisis point, the decisions were delayed until after the damage was done. The financial crisis could have been averted. Firing all the watchdogs, scrapping regulations, and fanning the flames of greed with radical capitalist fiscal policy decisions brought us to the brink. Mr. Bush's "decisive action" was to hand the robber barons who were largely responsible for the debacle a blank check... for 700 BILLION dollars. Just like Katrina, the damage had been done, the decision to save the economy came much too late.
As for good and evil, this theological dilemma that has caused the rise and demise of religions since the dawn of time is not a good way to run a country. It's a good way to run a country into the ground. The problem is not that everyone is for the Good and against the Evil, it's who gets to choose who and what is Evil and Good. Couple this belief with the "you're either with us or against us," and you've got the makings of a totalitarian state, bent on the destruction of it's enemies, both within and without.
So that leaves us with just one thing left that we all agree on. Seven and a half years of no terrorist attacks. That's it. No bragging or bravado this time, no chutzpah just a clear, unequivocal statement of fact. ONE single accomplishment that is recognized as significant by EVERYONE. The sigh of relief in this statement was figurative. It was very much like, "I kept us safe. Let's see if the next guy can." This is my only criticism of this very important and very significant fact. I along with every American citizen am very grateful that we have not been attacked again, but it seems that Mr. Bush has hung his star on the fact that he kept us safe and has, in effect, dared the next guy to match his success. He thinks his legacy will be assured if a terror attack happens on Mr. Obama's watch! He's dared us. He's looked us in the eye and flatly stated that his policies have kept us safe. If we don't continue the policies he began we won't be safe. He's staked his reputation on the idea that if a terror attack doesn't come in the next four to eight years, he will indeed be dubbed a failure by history. That's unreal....
So, in the end, we get the same Bush that we've heard for lo these eight years. He's the decider. But he decides to do what his advisors tell him to do. He handed the country to a group of neo-cons with a radical foreign policy agenda and we have two wars, millions of casualties, and a Three Trillion dollar bill to pay someday. He handed the economy to radical Laissez-faire supply siders and we've got an economy that's in the tank, sunk in a morass of a radical, deregulated, fiscal policy that will give us Trillion dollar deficits into the foreseeable future. He handed FEMA to Mr. Brown and we have an ethnically cleansed New Orleans that is still trying to get the help that was promised to rebuild the levee system and restore the outer banks before the next storm hits.
The Farewell Address showed Mr. Bush as a man who was, and in many ways still is, unready for the mantle of the presidency. Every crisis and every "accomplishment" showed his inability to respond with any kind of authority. He has been a classic "know nothing." He was not ready for the office and never bothered to bone up on any of the history that his administration would affect so greatly. Yes he was the decider, but he was also the man at the top and ultimately responsible for the great tragedies that have occurred on his watch. I felt sorry for him, but I had to watch him go. Farewell, Mr. Bush.