If any recent former president had a right to become bitter, petty and vindictive, it would be George W. Bush. From the shortest of transitions into his inauguration because of a long, contested election vote count, to the immediate refusal of special interests like the Congressional Black Caucus who thought it was ok to refuse to vote to approve his election, to rare credit for working with both sides of the aisle (and then being criticized by fellow Republicans for doing so), to ads run against him portrayed as Hitler and showing his assassination as a story line in a movie, to being portrayed as a war criminal by elected officials for keeping our country safe in the years after an historically horrific attack on our soil, and so on, he should be a bitter man. But he is not and that is perhaps the best revenge against the haters.
A post on National Review Online by Jay Nordlinger makes an interesting observation from the recent visit to the Boston area by the Dalai Lama. In uber liberal, ultra GW Bush hating Cambridge at MIT, an audience member asked the Dalai Lama for an example of a leader to be looked up to as a positive influence. Who did the Dalai Lama name? "President Bush. I met him personally and liked him very much. He was honest and straightforward, and that is very important. I may not have agreed with all his policies, but I thought he was very honest and a very good leader."
While acknowledging that he didn't agree with all of President Bush's policies, he was asked about the quality of leadership and positive influence. "I love him, said the Dalai Lama of President Bush, but as far as his policies are concerned, I have reservations." Understandable. No one agrees with all the policies of any president unless they are brain dead partisans.
As Jay Nordlinger wrote: "In my experience --and I'm just generalizing here-- the better the person, the more positive he is about George W. Bush. Certainly the less snarky and narrow." "This is particularly true of those who know something about tyranny, and the need to resist it: e.g., the Dalai Lama."
George W. Bush is certainly not given adequate credit for freeing 50 million people from dictators in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is rarely given credit for saving millions in Africa from the still frequent deaths by malaria or for providing medicines to treat HIV/AIDS to the sick in Africa. Was he perfect? No. Did he fall prey to the spending like a drunken sailor culture in Washington? Yes.
Character matters. Beware of celebrity style politicians. They have little character and no core. It catches up with them every time.