Sacred Heart Editor
Former President George W. Bush will not be missed — the election of President Barack Obama overshadowed Bush’s final days in office. At the inauguration, whooping, flag-waving, name-chanting crowds welcomed the new president, but Bush got booing from some — silence from most.
America did elect the former president twice. We look back and wonder how he made it back a second round in the Oval Office, but America was in a time of crisis. Three years after the terrorist attack of 9/11, people were not ready for change.
Some did see him as worth cheering for and may remember him as an interesting guy. He is, after all, a cowboy who was a cheerleader at his high school and Yale. He ran the Texas Rangers baseball team, and traded Sammy Sosa to the Chicago Cubs.
But now that Obama had introduced a “new kind of politics,” people are ready for the change proclaimed by this new and far more charismatic president. Bush’s old politics simply do not fit new demands of American people for change.
Bush was occasionally fun to read about and popular, in a sense — but not for the grace, class or charisma of President Obama. But one thing people will keep from Bush is his Bushisms — quotes now posted on blogs and Web sites to record and remember the occasional slip-ups that left Americans either shaking their heads or laughing out loud.
“There’s no question about it,” said Bush at a private fundraiser in Houston last year while addressing the failing economy. “Wall Street got drunk — that’s one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras — it got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments.”
More than one blog said maybe Bush and the Grand Old Party provided the booze. But again, the American people are attacking a president they voted for twice. He was a mistake-making human who chose one of the hardest jobs in the world and kept America standing. He did more-or-less what people expected of him — he changed very little and kept the country in one piece even with two wars and the threat of terrorism.
Bush had guts, not brains — his grade point average at Yale was 2.35. When Pope Benedict XI came to Washington, D.C. for a visit, the former president coined another popular Bushism that spoke to his often childish behavior.
“Thank you, your Holiness,” said Bush. “Awesome speech.”
It was something the former president would say — uncomplicated and unsophisticated. His radical oversimplifications did not make him another “Honest Abe,” and acquired some nasty nicknames in office: All Hat, No Cattle; unCurious George and Shrub.
His vulnerability and lack of grace did not aid him as president. But people voted for it. They were not comfortable giving up they leadership that had kept their nation declining but alive. He was not a smooth president, but in his own words, it is not fair to misunderestimate him.
“I have followed my conscience,” Bush said in his farewell address, “and done what I thought was right.”
Wrong. Eight years of mistakes and goof-ups have changed America’s frame of mind. The end of the Bush era marks the end of comfortable conservatism and the beginning of a new kind of politics hard to resist coming from the mouth of a smooth-talking, intelligent-sounding orator. Change.