Friday, September 11, 2009

Heroism gone Awry: George W. Bush

Full disclosure: I never voted for him. In 2000 I didn't vote, period, and in 2004 I voted Libertarian. That said, I think that on the anniversary of one of the defining moments of his presidency, the man deserves a look.

The early portion of his
presidency was unremarkable until that fateful day in September. For one shining moment, the man was inspirational. Back in the days when he could still keep good speechwriters (because they hadn't given up knowing how badly their work would be mangled), the man's speeches did what was necessary to keep the country going in one of its darkest hours.

To this day, his
statement from two months after the event stays with me. It informed how I view large scale and small scale tragedies and gave me a clue as to the enormity and weight involved with judging something on a massive scale like 9/11, the Holocaust, the London Subway Bombing. You take things much more seriously when you get this kind of perspective.

But that being said, I doubt anyone would ask why the man with the derisive nickname"W" belongs in the category of "Heroism Gone Awry." In the early days of his presidency, he gave the world perspective; he boldly named our enemies and was decisive in a course of action.

Then, over time, the problems started to mount.
Afghanistan accomplished little. Iraq was a questionable target and the strategy for dealing with it once involved was non-existent. We had the ideological upper hand in this conflict: it was a matter of civilization and reason against mysticism and barbarism. You would not be able to learn this from anything this man said.

The man failed so miserably at communicating the importance of the times we live in, the enemies we face and the action required that we are slowly sliding back into the same
complaisance that made 9/11 possible to begin with. The only thing that could do any more damage to his cause was his failure to act during Katrina, and how this became a rallying cry against the war effort.

Phrases like "War on Terror" and "Axis of Evil" became jokes. Top this off with the final act in office being on of the largest
socializations in American history and you have yourself the recipe for a track record that will live on in infamy. His presidency ended with the Left seeing him as a war-mongering uncompromising capitalist, and the Right simply wishing this were actually true.

The lesson to be learned here: never coast on one's past achievements, and never assume anything is self evident.