Jonah Goldberg
Recommend this article

Breaking news! The ultimate White House insider plans a tell-all book about the Bush years. Boasting unprecedented access to the president's thinking, it will run counter to almost everything we've been told about Bush's radical presidency.

Who will be the latest to break the code of silence after former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan? George W. Bush.

At least that's what went through my mind listening to the president during a meeting with a small group of journalists in the Oval Office on Monday. The session, maddeningly and often foolishly punctuated by long, off-the-record musings and soliloquies, mostly dealt with foreign policy.

That's hardly surprising. At the end of their run, presidents usually become preoccupied with world affairs - an area in which they have a much freer hand. On Capitol Hill these days, the only way a Bush proposal will see the light of day is if it arrives concealed in a pizza delivery box.

Dressed in a pale blue suit with a crisp blue tie, the president seemed to be in high spirits as he discussed developments in North Korea and other diplomatic initiatives, crushing my hopes for a poignant "Bush in winter" column. "When I write my book," the president teased, people will understand how much behind-the-scenes diplomacy went on during this administration.

I'm sure he's right. In fact, if only a fraction of what he had to say was accurate, then the conventional bleats about unilateralism, war lust and cowboyishness will go down in history as the excessive caterwauling of an imaginative and hyper-partisan opposition.

Indeed, President Bush's reputation is not as solidified as his detractors and fans think.

If Iraq becomes a stable and democratizing nation, his presidency will look much better than it does today. But if Iraq Balkanizes or Lebanon-izes, then Democratic rhetoric about the "worst foreign policy blunder in U.S. history" will gain descriptive heft. Only time will tell.

But whether it is ultimately deemed a failure or a success, there is one inconvenient fact of the Bush presidency that should prove dismaying to those who've invested so much in demonizing it: It isn't that special.

Recommend this article

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.