In response to this commentary of the hubris of President Bush, I could not help but to deeply reflect on my own thoughts concerning the man.
When I think of President Bush in retrospect to my current understanding, my puzzled emotional response is not of scorn or ridicule. No. When I think of Bush, I think ultimately of a sad man who once wished to do right by his country, yet caved to the forces of political pressure.
As I became politically awake following 9/11, President Bush -or namely, the baneful, spiteful press that he would always receive- would prove to be the principle reason why I could never develop into a liberal democrat. I couldn't analyze with clarity yet, but I knew that in there was an intelligent mind that understood basic economics, regardless of his bashers. I'm sure that in his honest heart is one that genuinely wishes nothing more than for the prosperity of his fellow man.
His pursuit of ANWR, his tax policy, his once anti-war rhetoric, his references towards reforming freddie mac and fannie mae, his list of vetos, and his call to address (at least marginally) social security reform before it was too late are all the reasoning behind why I speculate this. Additionally, his justice appointees Alito and Roberts, his lifting of the presidential ban on off shore oil drilling on July 14th 2008, and his later commitment to the principle of national security gives me confidence that within the man (and not the politician) himself, beats the heart of a true American who should have known better -or at least be retrospective- of such mistakes such as NCLB, the patriot act and the house of cards structure of the Department of Homeland Security.
The pity stems that despite it all, he would ultimately surrender his principles in a manner that resulted in the overall expansion of government. Deficits on account of his war spending is naturally among the first outcrys against him. Still I keep in mind that the man did not ask to become a wartime president. Candidate Bush did not run on the concept of nation building. Personally I hold our wars to be attributed to two other reasons. The emotional, nationalistic demand for someone's head following 9/11, and Saddam's own foolishness in painting himself the perfect scapegoat to vent our frustration upon.
Despite the warnings, the decision to go into Iraq was overwhelmingly popular. We the American people would have been in demand for demonstrating our superpower status regardless of who was president, regardless of which infamous nation was to be our victim. Al Gore could have targeted North Korea given 9/11 and the support would've been there. The fear of what a terrorist could do with a bomb was overwhelming, and perhaps only a full scale war would've satisfied our desire to go back to sleep at night. One can at least argue that despite America's present war fatigue, Al Queada has been dealt with crippling blows. To be fair, none can also deny Bush's attempt to get Saddam to comply and alleviate our paranoia of WMDs, prior towards going in; paranoia that the Baath party could have curtailed given better transparency on their part. I do not believe Bush gave the order to strike out of hawkish bloodlust, but of tempered, dutiful concern that we'd be struck again. In personally interacting with those who have lost loved ones, it is difficult to doubt that Bush carries his war decisions as a lifetime personal weight.
Weight. Remorse. Again I hold a level of pity for Bush, as I cannot help but ponder how things may have been different if not for 9/11. Given his statements during his farewell address, if there was anyone that President Bush least popular with, it was probably with a man known simply as Mr. Bush. With overwhelmingly negative press and the pressure of neoconservative policy pushers advocating against wise policy, I see a man who would finally crack in attempting to satisfy all. Did he honestly agree to prescription drug entitlements as he allowed it to pass? Did he personally agree to bailouts as the subprime crisis occurred (a crisis he brought attention to on deaf ears)? I speculate that he did not. But this was no longer the same man. By the point in his second term, all I saw in President Bush was just another victim.
A victim of the transforming power Washington can have on a man's spirit. Does this give him a pass on his mistakes? No. This American however can at least give him a break.
He was not malicious. Merely misguided. A house of compassionate conservatism torn apart by the winds of politics, for lack of a strong enough foundation in liberty.
The Obama administration on the other hand...