Bill Murchison

So in a matter of days it's bye-bye, Bush. Then it's bye-bye, gradually, to the cottage industry dedicated to ridiculing, castigating, smearing and trashing the 43rd president of the United States, who couldn't have pleased this surly gang save by expiring in office (even if his expiry would have vaulted Dick Cheney to the White House).

One of the gang, indeed, worked out his obvious frustrations by making a movie depicting Bush as victim of an assassin's bullet. Not a few have proclaimed "W" the worst president in American history, in spite of Jimmy Carter's longstanding and tenacious claim to that honor.

What are such folks going to do without Bush to kick around? Maybe cultivate nasturtiums, watch Mark Phelps exercise tapes, or learn to play the contra bassoon. I wouldn't give long odds on the survival rate for nasturtiums whose color or progress displeases the gang. Bush-despisers (think Joy Behar, Keith Olbermann, Frank Rich, etc.,) aren't famous for patience with viewpoints different from their own.

A popular clich has it that "history will judge" whatever at a given moment requires judging. On that expectation the whole flap about Bush and his merits may impress the next generation as just plain weird. Bush hasn't by any means been the greatest chief executive since Washington, but then Keith OIbermann isn't the most astute commentator since Socrates.

In assessing the Bush stewardship we need to calm down -- get a grip. As president, as commander in chief, Bush might have performed better. So might Ronald Reagan. So might John Kennedy. Errare humanum est.

Where did Bush err? Well, clearly, in the weighting of causes to invade Iraq. There weren't any "weapons of mass destruction." On the other hand, 1) nearly everyone else thought there were, and that Saddam was willing to use them, 2) Saddam sealed his own doom by refusing cooperation with inspectors, and 3) Saddamite Iraq was a moral and political cesspool urgently requiring cleanup by someone some time.

Then anger over Iraq led to the silly but oft-repeated charge that Bush's anti-terror policies amounted somehow to a secret war on civil liberties.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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