Salena Zito

Texas Gov. Rick Perry tells a story of a conversation that he had with his predecessor George W. Bush five months after both men took office, it occurred in June of 2001, shortly after the president had his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Perry explains that typically a Bush conversation is pretty quick to the chase, asking about his wife and kids and good-bye. But nearly forty minutes later Bush is still on the phone asking about who got the best of who in the Texas state legislature and catching up on all of the intrigues of Texas politics.

Perry says the homesickness was obvious in the president’s voice and as the conversation ended Bush said to him, “Hey Perry, remember that conversation we had in the governor's office about 18 months ago when I told you being the governor of Texas was the greatest job in the world?”

“Well, it is” Bush told him.

In the end as in the beginning much of the story of George W. Bush is that he really a Texan. He would really rather be in Texas than Washington. It is his home, his comfort zone. He considers Washington cold and cruel and Texas warm and genuine.

“More than that, he knows the issues in Texas” said political scientist Rob Maranto explaining that while in Washington Bush always had to stretch, often getting things wrong.

Bush found Texas Democrats, who are often center-right, casual, friendly, boisterous, trustworthy, and easy to work with, very unlike Washington Democrats.

“Bush has good instincts, good strategic vision” said Maranto, “he knew where he wanted to take the country, and many of his ideas made sense. His problems came in the tactics, in the execution. Because he personalized policy he kept on loyal subordinates even when they had screwed up royally, while firing those seen as competent, but more independent.”

As Bush’s shadow grows shorter around the halls of the White House and the world and excitement shifts toward President-elect Barack Obama the business of the White House must still go on.

The late Tony Snow told the Trib in an interview in 2006 that Bush “has a clock that tells you how many days we have left in the administration”

Then the White House press secretary Snow explained that Bush had told every cabinet secretary to think about everything they could do between now the end of “our” time in office.

“It will be a sprint to the finish” said his outgoing secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff in an interview last week.

Chertoff says that history will judge this president favorably, “He had big challenges under his watch and he never walked away from a challenge, he never said let me make this the next guys problem.”

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.