"Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust." That from the 2004 victory speech of George W. Bush. His reward for continually trying to find ways to work with both sides of the aisle since his first term in 2000 began? Approval ratings in league with Harry S. Truman.
I think just like Truman, President Bush will be vindicated with the passage of time. Future generations will learn of a strong, ethical, moral, generous leader.
In an interesting piece yesterday written by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, an investigative reporter and lawyer, that aforementioned quote appeared. Shapiro was an intern on the legal team of John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election. Yes, John Kerry. It was printed online for The Wall Street Journal.
"It seems that no matter what Mr. Bush does, he is blamed for everything. He remains despised by the left while continuously disappointing the right." He speaks to the fact that the current problems in the country - the economy in particular, were brewing long before Bush took office and he had very little control over any of it as it played out.
"The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time."
"Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House."
President Bush said in that speech, "We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America." This will come as a shock to most Obama voters, but others before him have actually spoken of the one country theme. It's just that others have actually meant it. Actions speak louder than words.
Continuing on, another article appeared on Real Clear Politics by Michael Gerson, an original member of the Bush team as he was beginning his first term. Gerson was a speech writer. His thoughts were on "...a presidential election is more than a political choice; it is a moral dividing line. It involves not just the triumph of a majority but a transfer of legitimacy that binds the minority as well. This is a largely undiscussed topic in modern political debate: legitimacy. It is a kind of democratic magic that turns votes into authority. It does not require political agreement. It does imply a patriotic respect for the processes of government and a determination to honor the president for the sake of the office he holds."
His piece speaks to the fade of legitimacy over the last decades. It was particularly obvious during the Clinton administration. Republicans went after him with a vengeance over impeachment. That may have been justified, in a legal sense, but it was harmful for the country. Once the reverence of the office of the leader of the most powerful country in the world faded, it is almost impossible to envision it coming back. Clinton wanted to be one of the guys, a regular kind of man. That theme continues on.
The problem with that kind of familiarity is that the criticism of the president move from the legitimate policy discussions into the personal realm. Our friends and enemies around the globe watch and listen. It is not helpful.
President Bush, since the circumstances of the election results in 2000, came in under a cloud as far as the opposition party was concerned. Think back to the spectacle of the Congressional Black Caucus standing in the House of Representatives and refusing to vote to verify the election results, as the House is charged to do. Disgusting.
From there on, though reaching out from the beginning, as was his way of governing the state of Texas, he worked with the likes of Ted Kennedy on education reform. His reward? Kennedy was the very first to go to the well of the Senate floor and disgracefully blame the president and his administration for the attacks of 9/11/2001. Hillary Clinton followed right along, though it was her husband's administration that put all the pieces in place for the attack on our country.
President Bush has been slandered, his family has been slandered and the hateful left rejoices. It would seem the nastiness can not be strong enough for them. Whether it is 'art' films using the assassination of President Bush, or the vicious name calling, or the conspiracy theories, it has been far from uniting for our citizens.
Now, the pundits are musing on how smoothly the Bush administration is bringing about the transition for the president-elect and his team. They point to the fact that the press never understood or reported on the basic decency of George W. Bush. They do not seem to understand the importance of character in a president. It explains the election of Barack Obama.
President Bush ushered in new laws and provisions through the Department of Homeland Security. The very provisions the hateful left likes to reject as going too far into civil rights will now serve the new president as they should. The first example to surface is the speed and efficiency of national security clearances for the Obama transition team. The members of the team have in place their clearances today and can move forward.
The transition team will be welcomed and well prepared to begin work in January. Too bad that wasn't the case for the team representing the newly elected George W. Bush. The election of 2000 was stretched out due to the recounts in Florida and the time was shortened to an unhealthy length. Then, there was the vandalism of the offices done by the Clinton people. Class. Not a word in their vocabulary.
President Bush gave gracious remarks yesterday to the president-elect. He and Laura Bush have extended an invitation for the Obama family to come to the White House and check it all out before moving in.
A lesson in character and grace that the Obamas would do well to remember.