George W. Bush At 60, I'm Still For Him
I don't share that view. If the 2004 election between Mr. Bush and Sen. John Kerry were being held today, I have no question that I would still vote for Mr. Bush.
There are points where I disagree with the President and his policies, but in his diligent defense of American interests in a time of war, in his determination to do all he can to protect the country against further terrorist attacks, I believe he is doing a fairly decent job and deserves the nation's support.
Mr. Bush, to say the least, is not, at this point, a great president or even a near-great one. But he is not the worst president by any means. He is neither weak nor wavering on pursuing the public interest and national unity, as President James Buchanan was. And he is not willing to accept corrupt practices as President Warren Harding was. He does not sit back and do nothing in the face of crisis, such as President Herbert Hoover did in the great depression. And he is anything but a nonentity, as Presidents William McKinley, Millard Fillmore, or Calvin Coolidge were.
After the events of 9-11, any President worth anything would have gone to war, as Mr. Bush did. War is always filled with mistakes and disappointments, and I'm not necessarily in agreement with everything Mr. Bush has done in fighting this one. For instance, he has left key military decisions to the military and to the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. The great wartime leaders, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, took direct hands in war decisions, realizing that war is too important to be left to the military alone. All were real commanders-in-chief, and it seems like Mr. Bush has shied away from that role.
Under Mr. Bush, certain civil liberties have been abridged, but I'm, in general, not in disagreement with the President on what he has done. This may be an unpopular point of view, but, in general, I believe the steps taken have been necessary and have not severely impacted basic American liberties and certainly not our democratic form of government.
Where I do have serious disagreements with Mr. Bush is in the areas of environmental and tax policies. I believe he is wrong to have opposed doing anything about global warming and in opposing the Kyoto treaty. I think he has been also wrong in cutting taxes the way he has, accepting huge budgetary deficits and particularly catering to rich tax payers, both corporations and individuals. I think he's wrong to want to abolish all estate taxes.
Mr. Bush could be more open in releasing information, although I also feel the nation's leading media outlets have too often been unfair to the President or not sought to understand him, as he or any American president in time of war, deserves.
On social policies, I don't share at all Mr. Bush's enthusiasm for curbing abortion, for appointing reactionary Supreme Court justices such as John Roberts and Samuel Alito, or for pushing a Constitutional Amendment banning flag burning. In some cases, I think he's prone to taking these stands for political reasons rather than being entirely sincere in his advocacy of them.
So, then what do I like about Mr. Bush?
He has been resilient in pursuing a war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who I think are highly dangerous to both America and all Western countries. He has been brave in traveling to Iraq and other Third World locations where, despite good Secret Service protection, he is running a danger of assassination. He has stood by Israel, despite many pressures to the contrary. He has been a steadfast supporter of black civil rights, giving vocal respect to such great black leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. For all these things, I'm grateful.
And I'm also grateful that Mr. Bush has not lost his cool, or succumbed to any kind of depression when confronted with all the criticism he's received or all the tests he has to undergo on a daily basis.
Mr. Bush's place in history may well revolve around his decision to fight the war in Iraq. To me, the jury is still out on that one. We will have to see whether the war can yet be turned into a success. I'm not ready yet to say it was a mistake, because Saddam Hussein was a terrible tyrant and he did pose a danger to surrounding countries and to our interests.
This is a minority view in the country at present, I know.
Summing it up, I hope that Mr. Bush has had a happy 60th birthday. He has a good family life, has apparently licked the alcohol problems he had earlier in his life and he is trying his best. I believe he deserves the good wishes of the American people.