By Pranav Sehgal
George W. Bush. Call him friend, foe, comedian—the fact remains he was once our president. He was subject to a great deal of criticism and mockeries by television hosts like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. Although we may have hated his policies, there is no denying he always kept us entertained. From making up words, to dodging shoes thrown at him and being portrayed in shows and movies like “South Park” and “Harold and Kumar,” he has always given us a chuckle.
Former President Bush has recently released an autobiography of his presidency entitled “Decision Points.” The book focuses on 12 different personal and political decisions Bush faced during his presidency. Now that he has been out of office for two years and has released his book, many are starting to wonder: what exactly is his legacy in American political history? It is often said controversial figures are vindicated by history. As time passes, old wounds heal. This concept is nothing new. Could this apply to our past president?
Most presidents’ popularity has grown over time after their presidency. For instance, Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky sullied his reputation during his presidency, but now whenever we think of Bill Clinton we think not of his affair but of his great philanthropic and diplomatic efforts. Still we may never forget the myriad of Bush blunders that not only tarnished his image as president but also tarnished our image as Americans worldwide.
Bush will never be able to change his domestic and international catastrophes such as the slow response to Hurricane Katrina, our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, our current financial crisis, prisons such as Guantánamo Bay and Abu-Ghraib in Iraq and the fact that the world virtually hated all Americans during his presidency.
Even though the U.S. and international public despised him at times, his legacy is not without merits. Let’s face it—George Bush’s poor decision-making didn’t stem from the fact that he wanted to intentionally do wrong; it occurred because he was just plain stupid. He’s not the guy you want running your country, he’s the guy you want to have a beer with. He’s the guy that you want to invite to parties so he can entertain you, but he’s not the guy you want controlling your 401(K).
Kidding aside, his presidency was not without memorable moments and important policies. During the days after 9/11, President Bush not only brought our nation together but also responded to those attacks in a forceful and deliberate way. Although his response was misguided and culminated in the invasion of Iraq, American involvement in Afghanistan was applauded. By going after Osama Bin Laden, and later the separate, but tyrannical Taliban regime, he provided a powerful response after 9/11.
President Bush also diversified his cabinet by appointing members such as Condoleezza Rice as the first African American National Security Advisor and Colin Powell as the first African American Secretary of State.
In a recent interview with Matt Lauer, Kanye West apologized for calling former President Bush a racist on a television broadcast, saying he was just expressing his anger over Hurricane Katrina. If Kanye West can find it in his heart to take a step back and reevaluate his opinions about George Bush, do you think we should all do the same? Or will George Bush’s legacy be forever marred by the policies of his administration?