President Bush will leave office on Tuesday, and a majority of Americans aren't disappointed to see him go. The country is experiencing a painful recession, enduring an unpopular — albeit successful — war, and people are generally eager to allow a new team to assess and tackle the nation's mounting problems. President Bush also appears ready to relinquish the heavy burdens of the presidency and quietly enter private life back in Texas. Liberals have been literally counting down the days to January 20, 2009 since Bush's re-election victory, and grumbling from the Right has grown steadily louder as the Republican President failed to live up to conservative principles on a number of occasions. In short, precious few people will miss President Bush. But I will.
I had the extraordinary opportunity to serve as a White House intern during Bush's second term. During my short time there, I was struck by the profound decency of the President, as well as the professionalism, dedication, patriotism and sacrifice displayed by his staff. When I would pass through security each morning around 7:45, the President and his top advisers had already been on the job for hours. Every single day. Rain or shine. Although the administration had been battered and bruised from all sides, morale remained surprisingly high due, in large measure, to the President's determined optimism and work ethic. Every day he lived out a passion for protecting this country, and doing so honorably. This outlook commanded enormous respect and affection from his staff, the overwhelming majority of whom remain loyal to their boss, despite all the negative attention paid to a disgruntled few.
Perhaps the most frustrating element of Bush hatred is the widely held perception that he is an unintelligent, uncaring, intellectually incurious man. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many people unfairly dismiss his degrees from both Yale and Harvard as the benefits of a famous last name. Even fewer people are aware of his voracious reading habits. And only a small handful of people have ever experienced President Bush unplugged, pouring out his heart in an off-the-record conversation without a microphone in sight. I had the honor of witnessing such an event.
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