Thank you, President Bush, for the years you have given to our country.
We’ve been through a lot together. I think we both should have known it would not be an easy two terms - given the way it began with Al Gore and the hanging chads and all. But still, it was nice to be able to introduce my children to our new President and to not have to think about what you really meant by the word “is.” Character. How sweet it was to see it, again.
I know you aren’t very popular right now - shucks, it’s not even very cool to like you on-line, W. But I’ll say it, straight up: I like you. I’ve enjoyed living free these last eight years. I always knew you had my back. (And tonight, I have to wonder…where would we be right now as a nation if Al had indeed won?)
I’ve appreciated the way you love and value Laura. And even though you’re no theologian, I’m not either…and I like the easy way you speak about your faith in God. I like how you tear up with your pop and how your mom still tells you to take your feet off the coffee table and pull up your socks. Mama’s always right, right?
I was thinking today how most presidents are able to prepare for war. They see it coming, they draft plans, it builds…and then war is declared. That’s not how it was for you. One day, you were reading to some children in an elementary school when war was declared on us. You had no time to plan or prepare - you just had to jump into the fray and respond and protect.
I remember how you told us at the outset that it would be a long and protracted war, and that the temptation would be to lose heart and the will to continue when times got hard. Boy, did your approval ratings as you presided over a very unpopular war prove that statement to be true.
In general, I believe that history will consider you to have been a visionary instead of a villain. Planting a democracy to replace a dictatorship in Iraq was difficult and painful; but birth isn’t usually pretty or pain free. You never left her side as she struggled to take her first breaths - even when the rest of the spectating world told you to back off, to cut our losses and run.
And that’s not all, of course. You’ve helped the nation of Africa; even as she teeters on the brink. You’ve reached outward, caring for the poor and needy around the world. You’ve given us several pro-life advances here at home, as well. You’ve given us Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice Roberts.
Naw, you’re not perfect. You’ve made mistakes - but you gave us your best. You gave us optimism and courage during some very difficult days. I’ll never forget you and the gracious lady by your side.
God bless you, Dubya, and Laura, too.