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Farewell, Mr. Bush

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As the hosannas of 2008 crescendo to the inauguration of President Obama, I, along with the rest of the country, look forward to a national rejuvenation as our new and charismatic leader presides over what will hopefully be an era of a caffeinated American economy, a period of bipartisanship, and a dawn for renewed international reputation. However, just because I've conceded to giving Obama the keys to the engine, I'm not quite ready to hurl our last president under the bus. Yes, I belong to that dwindling political club which is on the verge of conducting its meetings underground these days. That is to say, I'm so incredibly out of vogue that I'm compelled to deliver George Bush some semblance of a kind send-off. While such a compulsion might appear the equivalent of a political death-wish, in a world where Michael Dukakis lives on and one can purchase Barry Goldwater T-shirts on the internet, I'm feeling fairly well-protected.

Tomatoes and Iraqi footwear put aside, a lot's been chucked at President Bush. But I'm going to issue a different type of attack: Mr. Bush, you were too human. In 2000 you ran on the platform of compassionate conservatism and a quiet foreign policy but then became the head chef in the kitchen of an administration gorging on a domestic government fattening grossly beyond a traditional Republican waste-line. Like mere mortals do, you became too ensnared in the polarities--good vs. bad, allies vs. terrorists, victory vs. defeat, conservative vs. liberal'rather than highlighting our commonalities.

The war you waged on terror was one requiring extreme military abstractionism. And, being people ourselves, when provided the choice of confronting a nameless army of faraway jihadists or a Texan drawl we recognized, Americans scapegoated the man with the accent we understood. Let's face it, we're always tougher on family.

As the country's apotheosis of President Obama has proven, we want a god sleeping at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and, Mr. Bush, you were too contradictory, too prone to grammatical tongue-tying, and too cavalier to cultivate our prayers. But with that undeniable humanity also came your most humanitarian achievements. In a world where our pollution-prone species must strive to protect the environment, you recently mandated 200,000 square miles of protected ocean in the Mariana Trench near Guam on top of the already 140,000 square miles preserved in the Hawaiian Ocean in 2006, making you the head of the largest marine conservation project ever.
On the African continent in which you yield over an 80 % approval rating, you've secured 50 billion in HIV/ AIDs relief and made laudable leaps with initiatives such as the Millennium Challenge Account as an investment in uncorrupted leadership. Additionally, you've dedicated yourself to projects like the African Financial Sector Initiative, furthered free trade between African nations, Asia, and the West, and boosted education opportunities and the eradication of diseases like malaria. Despite those who have tried to draw comparisons between Bush's policies toward Sudan and Clinton's failure to address Rwanda, it was the Bush administration that first drew attention to the unforgivable human rights violations in the region, spearheaded relief, and urged international peacekeeping troops from the UN and African Union. In Darfur, many parents name their first born sons George Bush.
I'm not ashamed to say my president dismantled the Taliban or ousted the genocidal despot that was Saddam Hussein. Nor am I ashamed to say my country stands for Middle Eastern democracy and a freer world.
Steering into 2009, many Americans will want to marginalize you Mr. Bush as a figure-- much like Grover Cleveland or Herbert Hoover'whom they'd like to forever bury deep within the pages of the Almanac. Yet, sandwiched between Bill and Barack, your order in presidential chronology is number 43'a prime number that's rugged and indivisible, as uncompromising as your conviction and righteousness. You and Veep Dick Cheney seem keen on ultimately pulling off a Truman-style victory in our history books. Perhaps you shall. But there you go again, trying to paint that bold line between unpopularity and destiny, between black and white. If we've learned one thing in the complications of the past eight years, or past 43 presidents for that matter, it's that history's favorite color is grey. From one human being to another, Farewell Mr. Bush.





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