So, I offer a few excerpts from a roundtable about the legacy of outgoing President George W. Bush at National Review Online:
He took a tremendous amount of abuse, particularly from elite opinion, and did not buckle. Neither did he lash out. He showed tremendous personal grace, as during the recent shoe-throwing incident in Iraq. He could be a real cool cat, this president. He has his faults, as everyone knows: They have been well gone over. But what has not been well gone over is that he is kind, decent, honest, principled, devout — and full of love.
The demonization of President George W. Bush was a fait accompli before he was even inaugurated. The rage and hatred against Bush developed before his election and before his political enemies got to know him...Given the circumstances of 9/11, one would think Americans would pull together in these trying times. But each election cycle the Democrats kept doubling down on the hate, and in 2006 they finally got their wish. They were now in power again. Still, their demand to pull out of Iraq was a weak cry. Because they know we won. Because they know Bush was right on the big issue of our time.
When the United States was attacked by al-Qaeda on 9/11, every expert in Alpha Centauri solemnly announced that it was only a matter of time — and not much time, either — before the United States was attacked again. Well, here we are some seven and a half years later and, guess what, it hasn’t happened. I know people — you see what low company I keep — who will tell you with a straight face that President Bush had nothing to do with this run of good luck. “Post hoc,” they sniff, “doesn’t necessarily mean propter hoc, and if America has thus far escaped another terrorist attack, there is no reason to think that W had anything to do with it.” No sane person, I submit, really believes that. Deep down, we all know that the reason the United States has not suffered another terrorist attack is the policies formulated by the president in the aftermath of 9/11.
I am grateful to President Bush for ignoring the rants and raves of the establishment press (and a few uncomprehending National Review contributors who shall remain nameless), while persistently doing what he had determined was the right thing to do. It is simply pathetic to watch E. J. Dionne and other victims of Bush Derangement Syndrome miss this part of the man’s character to the bitter end. After the triangulation of the Clinton years, after 9/11, and in the face of the biotech challenge, America badly needed a president who didn’t govern by focus groups and polls. That so many people resented this says, I fear, more about our political culture than it does about George W. Bush.