Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank You, Mr. President

Today was an immensely historic and proud day for the United States of America. We now have a new President, and while I did not vote for him, and while I am not optimistic that his actions will turn out to be in the best interests of this country or of the world, I hope G-d grants him the wisdom and humility needed to lead us over the next four years. His responsibilities will be awesome and he deserves the best wishes of every American....... The botched oath does still mean it is legal though, right?

My thoughts are also of course elsewhere today. That is why I wanted to take a few moments to symbolically salute President George Walker Bush, Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney, their families, and the Administration they led over eight monumental years in the history of the greatest country the world has ever known.

Thank you Mr. President. I have been proud and honored to politically support you over this past decade. I knew then, very early on, and I believe still that you were the right man to become the 43rd President of the United States. I knew that you would govern in a way that was compassionate and conservative, and that you would restore the honor and dignity that had been lost under your predecessor, and that whatever came your way, you would put doing what was right for the people, above your own political self-interests.

Mr. President, I have not agreed with every decision you made over the past eight years, and as you have admitted, you wish some things would have been done differently. I have certainly also been frustrated at times with the way your humility and sense of personal security caused you in your second term to basically stop defending yourself against an onslaught of unfair attacks. The Grand Old Party may have suffered at the ballot boxes in part because of that, and your poll numbers certainly did, but in perilous times, you did what you thought was right, you made the tough decisions, and you took the hits as they came.

September 11, 2001 changed the world, changed America, and changed you and the course of your Presidency. Like most Americans, I remember that day too vividly. There were some scary moments then and a great deal of fear as to what would come next, but your presence on that day and in those that followed rallied the nation and let us know that we would be ok. It is amazing just how much life has returned to normal for so many since that fateful date. Almost too amazing; as if we have been taking these days of relative calm for granted, in a way that we should not.

I look back towards that day over seven and a half years ago and I remember thinking that continued terrorist attacks would become a sad new part of our reality. There might have been something even worse than what had happened in New York and at the Pentagon. Perhaps more frequent smaller attacks would happen as well. How often would they occur? Monthly? Weekly? Just what exactly were we in for?

If any of us had been told on that crazy September day, when we all knew we would have to respond and face a new kind of war, that not a single attack would again occur on American soil into January 2009, we would have been shocked and grateful. Mr. President, it is not simply a coincidence that we were not hit again by our enemies during your Administration. Your policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the broader War on Terror would prove to be controversial, and the prices that were paid by so many and their families, have weighed on us all, but you kept the faith that America would not bow in the face of fear and you kept your oath of office to defend the nation. Your subsequent actions brought about the liberation of millions across the world who had lived in tyranny and now have a brighter future. Your critics may just not get it, but your passionate advocacy for liberty and freedom, in every corner of the Earth, is the only true answer for worldwide prosperity and peace. History will record that and thank you for it, whether it takes five years or 50 years.

Other skeptics say that the end of your Presidency will usher in a new era where our "ideals" are placed above our "security." As if they were not one in the same. So, thank you Mr. President for keeping us secure while also honoring the best ideals of America. Some may not believe it now, but history will thank you for it, someday.

So, Mr. President, as you wake up early tomorrow morning on your ranch in Crawford, to enjoy the first day of a new chapter in the life of you and your First Lady, I hope you enjoy the peace of mind. I hope you can appreciate the first morning, in several years, that will not require you to be briefed on the specific, serious, and secret threats against America. That task now falls to a new President and in a broader sense, it also continues to be the responsibility of all of us to not forget the lessons of September 11, 2001.

Through all the ups and downs of the past eight years, I hope you know that so many Americans do appreciate what you did, and that you were delivered; healthy, safe, sound, and un-impeached.

History should treat President George W. Bush well.