For all his warmongering, their are two spontaneous incidences that will forever remind us of the man who beyond all expectations has seen eight disaster laden years as the chief tenant of the White House.
The first is that day when when Americans invaded Iraq, a statue of Iraq’s deposed strongman, Saddam Hussein was pulled down by jubilant Iraqis . It was supposed to be the beginning of a democratic free Iraq.
It reminded us of his father’s failed bid to cow down the same Saddam Hussein in what was then billed as the third world war.
Nobody did worry about finding weapons of mass destruction because the world without Saddam was a reward enough.
Not even the CIA predicted the mayhem that al Qaeda and Sunni militants were to unleash onto Iraq.
Six years down the road and thousands of lives have been lost. It is now ideally acknowledged that the Iraq invasion was an unwarranted mistake that will bloat George W. Bush Jr’s legacy permanently.
In the optimistic mood that a black American president has offered the world, the risk of forgetting Bush’s main mistake could have been high but for an angry Iraq journalist who ruined a perfect chance for the lame duck president to present himself as the man who dared make difficult military decisions to defend his country against terrorism.
He reduced him to an ordinary shoe-ducking citizen and added some nonchalant words as perfect icing for the president’s legacy project, calling it, “a present from Iraq people, from orphans and widows.” Clearly that is not the best way to put your point across.
But as Bush flies out of Washington to his expansive Texas ranch on January 20th a few things will be running through his mind.
One of those is how he bungled the overwhelming goodwill and sympathy that America had after 9/11 and his own resolute standing as a defender of America interests at difficult times to become the most unpopular outgoing president in along time.
He will also wonder how bungling became the signature of his administration, talk about Hurricane Katrina, the failed capture of Osama bin laden and his sidekick, Mullah Mohammed, and most of all, taking the US economy from a budget surplus to not only a deficit but an economic recession presided over by big company executive bungling decisions.
An overwhelming rejection by ordinary Americans of the leadership he has exemplified. The presidential election turned into two statements.
“If you vote him, you will have voted George Bush and his policies again,” Obama said, while McCain insisted, “am not George Bush, am my own man, I have challenged George Bush and my party positions many times like a maverick, so please vote me”. It could have well been a referendum on George Bush, the man and we know how it all turned out.
No need to flog a dying man, but for a man who had travelled to only three countries before he stood for president and could not pronounce the Pakistan president’s name, George Bush has stood steadfast when he needed to as the most powerful man in the world. He may have his failings as a president but as leader, he was a steadfast man who stood by his words and never wavered amidst threat, even when shoes were thrown at him.
Besides, he made his father proud as the first president to have a son in the White House. He even named an aircraft carrier after his father in his last week in office; take about father-son affection.
Even though the world will not miss him, only history will judge him properly, and cast his proper legacy in stone, in the future.