As lame-duck President George W. Bush enters the last two weeks of his Presidency, the anger over his actions during the past eight years appears to be on the rise.
Much appears to stem not just from anger over his policies or his actions but instead from a deep-seeded hatred of the man.
Regular readers of this column know I disagree strongly with many of Bush’s policies and actions. I’ve been hypercritical of his administration.
But I don’t know the man and I have trouble understanding the anger and hatred that I see in the comments section of this web site or elsewhere on the Internet.
I worked inside the Republican Party for a number of years. A number of my friends from those days know Bush personally. While many of them also disagree with what he did as President and leader of their party they also believe that his actions were those of a true believer in his cause, his judgment and his country.
In many ways, George W. Bush’s actions as President defined extremism at the highest political level but extremism in politics is not unusual. Former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater once said that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." Goldwater at the time was running for President and considered too extreme when compared to then-President Lyndon Johnson.
History has since proven Johnson as the extremist who drove this country deeper into the abyss of Vietnam.
President Bush, and those who support his policies and actions, believe history will judge his administration less harshly than we have in the present.
There’s no way to know how history will ultimately judge George W. Bush because the legacy he leaves behind has yet to play out. The origins of our current economic crisis date back many years. Osama bin Laden began planning the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon long before Bush took office. Bush created many problems during is two terms in office. He inherited many as well.
I believe history will judge Bush’s Presidency a failure but I don’t know at this point if history will judge him as one of the nation’s worst Presidents. History is fluid, evolving and still being written. From a historical perspective, Watergate still overshadows Richard M. Nixon’s accomplishments in foreign policy.
In our trial-by-Internet culture, the Bush administration has already been convicted of many crimes. Many want he and his appointees pursued on the legal front after Jan. 20.
But it won’t happen. Ex-Presidents are like ex-spouses. They fade into memory as they are replaced by new loves, new passions and new problems.
America has a way of surviving. Our focus must be on the promise of the future, not the failings of the past. We should learn from any such failings but put aside the anger and the hate and move on.
America’s future will be determined by what we do in the days ahead and we cannot shape that future by wasting time dwelling on the past.