Bush and September 11


            Here’s something that is hardly a newsflash: George W. Bush is not currently very popular.  This was not the case in the past and—surprisingly—it might not be the case in the future.  Consider the presidency of Harry Truman whose popularity was remarkably low at times, yet he is widely admired today (especially among politicians who hope to see their own failures turned around).  Amazingly, Abraham Lincoln won less than 40% of the popular vote when he first ran for President, but many now rate him as our greatest one.

            So, how will history treat George W. Bush?

            Actually, it’s not very clever to try to answer that question yet for two reasons.  One, there are still big events that might occur between now and January that could leave a big impact on the legacy of the Bush administration.  Two, the long term effects of some of Bush’s decisions won’t be seen for quite some time (that’s why they’re called “long term” effects).

            There is of course plenty of ammunition for those who believe Bush ultimately will be ranked in the same category with Martin Van Buren, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter.  A war in Iraq over Weapons of Mass Destruction that were never found, an unsecured southern border in an age of terrorism, and a failure to lead the way on making America energy self-sufficient will all be part of Bush’s legacy.

            But September 11 will be part of that legacy, too.  One hundred years from now, an impartial historian—if there ever is one—might have to give Bush II some credit here.  Some will say he should have seen it coming, but one of the goals of such attacks is to take advantage of the element of surprise.

            More noteworthy, as far as Bush is concerned, is that we haven’t been attacked like that again in over seven years now.  Possibly we will be at some future point, but up until now we have been protected on our home soil from experiencing anything like what we endured on September 11.  And it’s not like the Islamic terrorists have lost interest in us since 2001.  If they hated America before, I can’t imagine how they feel after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

            We have lost between 4,000 and 5,000 American lives in Iraq in five and a half years there, but we lost about 3,000 in one day when the terrorists attacked.  Bush’s track record in this area isn’t bad.  Perhaps we can blame the President (among others) for high gas prices, but we should credit him (among others) for keeping us safe.