Last night when I should have been sleeping, I was pulled into watching a special on George W. Bush--yes, our President. I didn't want to stay up and watch, but was drawn to look again at this man many love to hate. Actually, I was kind of mesmerized by the whole thing (maybe it was the aftermath of a day in the all too elusive northern Wisconsin sun.) Here sat a man who surprisingly was very comfortable in his own skin, even having made decisions that have put many lives in harm's way. Given all the tough decisions he has had to make and the fact he looks twenty years older, the President still described his life as joyous. That was his choice of words, joyous. Now, that was amazing to hear.
I have to confess, I've always liked George W, much to the chagrin of many around me. But lately, as the spotlight has been drawn to future Presidential hopefuls, I haven't thought much about the man. Frankly, he seemed to have lost his edge in his second term. See, as a rebel in my own family, I never found it hard to relate to what many would call the dark side of the President--he was a risk-taker, knew what he wanted, and pursued it with a vengeance--my kind of man. No one would ever call him a wimp. But, on the other hand, George W, as a man of unwaivering values and principles, was a refreshing contrast to his immediate predecessor. In the hot spot that all our Presidents are placed, the dark and light sides are glaringly visible, and it appears that the audience takes great delight in denouncing or negatively speculating with utter abandon. It is as if the judging audience has no dark and light sides of their own, or at least ones to which they want to admit. But I digress, back to my confessions. . .
I never could see in George W the malignant arrogance and swagger that invited so much antipathy from others; rather, I found those characteristics rather charming in a Texan sort of way. Texans can be an independent breed, and he has been a prime exemplar of that don't-get-in-my-way attitude. Having grown up in Texas, this genre of politicians was not out of the ordinary. The fact he wore his religion on his sleeve was a bit off-putting, but, hey, I've seen worse. I was raised as a Catholic in Texas where Southern Baptists and other evangelicals don't apologized for their proselytizing, nor will they ever. To them it is the fastest ticket to heaven. At least, unlike the terrorists, they are not take innocents with them on the ride.
But last night even with all that admiration in the past, I tried ever so hard to be an Observer, even if only in training, and see if I could stay neutral about the man while viewing his pros and cons from a distance. Frankly, I was unsuccessful. The folksy portrayal left me liking him even more. Who couldn't like someone who takes no "small balls moves." Never heard that phrase before, but it fits the sitting President well, don't you think? Who couldn't like someone who over and over again says he believes that liberty is God given to every man, woman and child on the planet, and judges all of his political actions against it. This idealism is reminiscent of that emanating from the speeches of Barack Obama, that have been glowingly covered in this blog. He too speaks of freedom and liberty and hope. Although many would consider putting the two men in the same sentence heresy, there is really no reason for that. Good men come in many flavors, and I'm not talking about race.
In the end, President Bush said he would let history be the judge of his actions and cared little about his present low approval ratings. He often referred to Lincoln, who as a war time President was not terribly popular. An anecdote from the Special was telling: the President said that the Gettysburg Address, one of the greatest freedom documents of all time, was derided by the press during Lincoln's lifetime. Whats more, Lincoln went to his untimely death without a clue that the Gettysburg Address would be one of his famous legacies. Because of his felt kinship with the 16th President, the 43rd spends much time in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House gathering inspiration and fortitude. Those interested in numerology might find it interesting that 16 and 43 each equal 7. According to many, 7 is the numerical basis of the universe and this could prove to be an auspicious sign for Bush. Or maybe not.
So how will history judge this beleaguered President? At the end of the TV special, a thought came to me about creating a time capsule of this TV special plus a few other memorabilia of the time period to store away for 20 years. By then, we should know whether historians have judged the President a success, as I would speculate, or a failure, as many others would guess.
If any readers would like to add to this time capsule, please feel free to contribute. I will close the capsule on February 27, 2008--my birthday--with instructions for its opening on February 27, 2028. If I am not around on the physical plane that day, know that I'll be watching from a distance (Observers don't change their stripes on the other side.) If that is the case and whatever the outcome, I will ask that my descendants have a glass of wine and toast that crazy lady who actually liked George W. Bush--and she wasn't even a Republican, only an Observer-in-training.
Note: The Fox News Special, George W. Bush, Fighting to the Finish can be purchased from Amazon.com for anyone with a burning desire to see and hear history in the making.