Monday, January 19, 2009

A Farewell to President Bush [UPDATED]

At Catholics in the Public Square, Christopher Blosser links to George Weigel's piece at Catholic Exchange thanking President Bush (Chris has cross-posted at American Catholic, with the expected vitriol in response by the usual suspects):
... I should like to praise him for his steadfast support of the pro-life cause, domestically and internationally. Thanks to President Bush, we have two more Supreme Court justices who likely know that Roe vs. Wade was terrible constitutional judging, and dozens more federal district court and appellate court judges with similar convictions. Thanks to President Bush, the U.S. government drew an important moral line in stem cell research, even as the administration accelerated bioethically sound research strategies that have produced real results. Internationally, the Bush administration stood firm against the Gadarene rush to use international law to declare abortion an international human right and a necessary component of the emancipation of women; as one senior Vatican official put it to me, a year ago, “We know we’re never going to have another American administration as supportive of our core issues as the Bush administration has been.”

I should like to praise the President for his work to rid Africa of the plagues of AIDS and malaria and to relieve the suffering of those afflicted with those awful diseases. George W. Bush may be an object of ridicule in certain U.S. zip codes; he is the subject of veneration among those in the “bottom billion” whose lives his policies have saved or enhanced.

I should like to thank the President for offering Pope Benedict XVI such a warm welcome on the South Lawn of the White House on April 15, 2008 — a welcome that ought to have put paid, once and for all, to the notion that there is something incompatible between robust Catholic faith and a mature gratitude for the political miracle of American democracy.

I should like to thank President Bush for his personal decency, manifest in his (unpublicized) personal attention to our wounded and to the families of the fallen; in his refusal to become bitter in the face of outrageous slander; and in his calm amidst tribulations that most of us can’t imagine. I should like to thank him for his unapologetic confession of Christian faith, and for his testimony to the importance that prayer plays in his life. And I should like to thank him for not giving a hoot about the mockery that such a witness draws from a secularized mass media, from American high culture, from cranks like Michael Moore, and from Euro-secularist snobs who spent eight years sneering at the evangelical cowboy in the White House while their continent was dying from spiritual boredom.


UPDATE (20 January)
Christopher also adds this in the comments at Rich Leonardi's blog:
The blogger at Wheat & Weeds covers a list of President Bush's pro-life accomplishments during his two terms. Be sure to read as well her roundup: George Bush and the Least of These.

UPDATE #2 (20 January)
The Cranky Conservative adds his thoughts at "George Bush's America":
... There is much to admire about George Bush. From a character standpoint, he is top notch. He never allowed himself to be governed by the polls (perhaps he could have fared to do so a bit more). He always did what he honestly believed was best for this country. Pro-lifers have complained about his supposed lack of commitment to the cause, but it’s hard to think of a President who actually did more for the pro-life cause than President Bush. His Supreme Court appointments will most likely prove to be better than any of his Republican predecessors in the post-New Deal era. And while I sometimes cringe when I see people mention that there have been no terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11 - well, there have been no terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11. Make of that what you will.

His failings are obvious. Conservatives have every reason to be chagrined by his lack of conservative leadership. As Rush Limbaugh has pointed out countless times, he is not a movement conservative. His “big government” conservatism was not conservative in the traditional sense of the word. He failed to use the “bully pulpit” effectively. His stubborness was as much a failing as a virtue, as was his loyalty to his subordinates.

In the end, what strikes me most about the Bush presidency is how much it and the man himself are a reflection on America itself. His basic goodness, his idealism, his down-to-earth wisdom, and his sense of compassion are all reflective of the best of the American character. Bush’s failure, at least in terms of popularity, is a reflection of one of America’s less endearing characteristics. The very idealism that motivates Bush and motivates much of our country leads to disillusionment very swiftly when things don’t go right immediately. Americans expect everything, and they expect it now, and they expect it without experiencing a lot of pain or sacrifice. The same wild-eyed enthusiasm that prompted most Americans to support the Iraq war initially turned sour when Americans realized that there actually would be bloodshed. Instead of a bloodless war that ended with an Iraqi state full of blooming flowers and earthly grandeur, we got several thousand American soldiers killed, many thousands more innocent Iraqis killed (not to count thousands upon thousands of terrorists killed - that does not fit the established narrative), and a badly managed war that did not start going well until after most Americans had given up on it.

I have little doubt that history will treat Bush kindly. President Hopey Changey will turn out to provide a lot less hope and change than anticipated, and Bush won’t look so bad in hindsight. Whatever his failings, Americans always thought well of the man, and I’d expect an almost instant re-appreciation of George Bush the man. Heck, if we can speak well of an egotistical jerk like Carter after he left office, surely we can treat an actually decent human being well now that he is longer occupying the Oval Office.


UPDATE #3 (20 January)
The Anchoress says "Thank you, President Bush".

UPDATE #4 (20 January)
Ed Morrissey offers his appreciation in "Goodbye, Mr. Bush".

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