President George W. Bush’s farewell speech is more than a goodbye to the nation that elected him twice. It is his last chance in office to define his tumultuous presidency in his own, unfiltered terms — a mission that will keep his fire burning even after he fades off to a quieter life.
Bush will say goodbye to the country Thursday night. He will follow the script of Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and many before them: Express thanks to the country and pride in the honor of serving, wish the next president well and outline what he considers to be the biggest challenges ahead.
And there will be looking back.
For presidents, parting thoughts are not about parting shots. This will be no different. But Bush is proud of his record and will go out defending it.