For Bush - The Words Never Mattered
President Bush gave his last White House press conference today, and frankly it's not important what exactly he said. Of course the media will focus on any admission of mistakes or failures, but as with so much else when it comes to the Bush Presidency simply what Bush says cannot and should not be our focus. Clearly, the inability of the President, or on many occasions his staff, to effectively articulate policy is partly to blame for the poll numbers that have hung around the Administration's neck for going on three years.
As history begins its work or judging the time George W. Bush at the helm of this great nation, there is something deeper about him that is overlooked. People are often lost in the great chorus of criticism and hate that has drowned out and pushed aside some real truths about the 43rd President of the United States.
I was always taught that actions speak louder than words. Let's face it, Bush isn't a talker. That much is certain. He's a doer. Voters often reward form over substance. They also respond to rhetoric over results. In the case of George W. Bush, the American people have had a leader these past eight years who communicated in a very different way than Reagan or the man who will occupy the office only a short time from now. It's not something that plays well on television or is crafted by a focus group dial-testing for hours on end.
To like and respect Bush was a challenge for all of us to look deeper into the man. It required a willingness to see passion, commitment, courage and faith. It required us to believe that behind the misinformation were simple beliefs and indisputable facts that provided a firm foundation for a remarkable resolve. It meant looking beyond the shrill critics to see facts, appreciate risks and promote a world view that is in keeping with best intentions of our founding documents. Perhaps a little too deep for our fad-ridden, reality TV and on-demand culture.
These messages weren't best conveyed behind a podium. They were delivered in the form of a warm embrace at a shelter for victims of 9/11. They were delivered to small groups of tornado and hurricane victims in the rubble of their homes. They were delivered in holding the hand of the widow of Shuttle Columbia astronaut. They were delivered with tears flowing to the families of fallen soldiers in the Oval Office and on bases coast to coast, far away from the prying eyes of the media. I know. I was there on many of those occasions.
His message was simple - "I will be strong for you." Bush would not be governed by the media, the polls, the French, the UN or any other force on Earth other than the Constitution of the United States and his dedication to preserving our way of life. I will always contend that one of the reasons the liberal cognoscenti hated him so much, was they just didn't understand how someone they labeled as so utterly stupid could have the strength of character, steadfast resolve and unbending confidence to stand alone against all the critics for what he believed was right. That is how George W. Bush communicated effectively. That lonely march will be remembered by history long after our time here has ended.
As a Republican, was I happy with the spending? No. Was I happy with the lack of a domestic policy in the second term? No. Did I think that the Mission Accomplished banner was one of the biggest political blunders in recent memory? Yes. But during a time when the world changed; when we witnessed the evolution of modern warfare; when the old battle lines were erased from the map, George W. Bush's vision of planting the seeds of freedom in the Middle East as a long-term strategy for fighting the hate of the terrorist philosophy, may very well prove more powerful than any soaring speech to a crowd of thousands. I saw that too when I served the Coalition in Iraq.
George W. Bush can be viewed as a lonely man in these waning days of his Presidency. He should welcome it and to an extent, so should we. Whether you agree with him or not, Bush's loneliness is a badge of honor. He's not a talker. He's a doer. His actions to keep this nation safe and expand the hope of freedom speak volumes about a man some call a cowboy. Well, America needs more John Waynes these days. Where there is no security, no words can compensate. One last time - Thank you Mr. President. God Speed.