The greatest president of the 21st century

Posted: Oct 27, 2004 12:00 AM

 Oct. 27, 2054 -- It was a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare. A man of strength, a man of courage, a man of God risked his life and his presidency to protect his nation and the values for which it stood. And the nation, blinded by its worship of tolerance, led astray by a barrage of hate, looked instead to a shyster and a weakling for guidance.

 George W. Bush was the finest president of the 21st century. He took office in the crucial 2000 election -- the election marking the beginning of the end for American representative democracy. Immediately denounced as a conservative radical and an unelected dynastic pawn, Bush stepped into a situation fraught with peril. A recession had begun after the illusory prosperity of the 1990s Internet bubble unexpectedly burst. A decade of defense and intelligence slashing had sliced national security to the bone. The administration of Bill Clinton, marked by a tendency toward tolerating immorality and bashing traditionalism, had left America profoundly vulnerable.

 At first, few thought President Bush was up to the task -- and many hoped he wasn't. Angered by Al Gore's election loss, the Democratic Party and mainstream media began demonizing Bush as an ignoramus. Even as Bush attempted to reach across the political aisle to create an education bill, his opposition claimed he was dividing America. Even as Bush stumped for badly needed tax cuts to reinvigorate the economy, his opposition claimed he was too hard line.

 And then, Sept. 11, 2001. Three thousand Americans dead in New York and Washington, D.C., and on an empty field in Pennsylvania. The specter of international terrorism leapt into the light. President Bush rose to the occasion.

 President Bush realized that Sept. 11 was a symptom of a greater disease: terrorism inbred with Islamic fundamentalism. America went to war. The Taliban, an evil regime paralleled only by Cold War communist dictatorships and Nazi Germany, quickly fell to American forces. Men and women voted. Little girls went to school. And U.S. troops hunted Islamist terrorists.

 But the American opposition didn't sleep. Bush's critics began calling for more "humane" approaches to terrorism. Eager to revive the Vietnam era, Bush's opponents began referring to Afghanistan as a "quagmire." Most vicious, a few choice opponents started impugning President Bush's patriotism, implying that he had known about Sept. 11 and allowed it to happen.

 President Bush recognized the defenselessness of American society to the threat of terrorism and secured virtually unanimous congressional approval for the Patriot Act. President Bush's attorney general, John Ashcroft, used the Patriot Act to nab terrorists before they murdered Americans.

 And yet Ashcroft was called an "ayatollah," a Peeping Tom. Democrats who had voted for the Patriot Act now condemned it as a blot on American freedom. Even as they claimed that President Bush wasn't doing enough to ensure homeland security, the Democrats decried racial profiling and anti-terrorist surveillance methods.

 President Bush realized that dismantling the Taliban was only the beginning of a worldwide fight. The debate turned to Iraq, where mass murderer Saddam Hussein was connecting with global terrorism and actively seeking weapons of mass destruction. Bush told Hussein to provide proof of complete WMD disarmament. When Hussein refused, Bush ordered him removed from power, with the help of over 30 allied nations. Within weeks, Hussein was off his throne, thousands of Iraqis were tearing down fascist monuments, and a constitutional democracy was being instituted.

 For Bush's opposition, this was the last straw. Weeping over supposed violation of international law, Democrats who had approved presidential discretionary use of force in Iraq now decided once again that they had been deceived. And so they slandered Bush as a warmonger and a traitor. They and their vile ilk claimed that Bush was a shill for Saudi oil. Their presidential candidate, John Kerry, derided Bush as a liar, even as Kerry himself refused to answer straight questions about either his record or his political opinions.

 The pounding took its toll. Kerry, the perfect embodiment of leftist hatred for George W. Bush, fulfilled his lifelong ambition. And, like Winston Churchill, Bush was unceremoniously thrown from office.

 The rest is history. Faith in American republicanism has been undermined by candidates who will not acknowledge the legitimacy of majoritarian democratic results. America has been plagued by a sporadic but regular and devastating pattern of terrorist bombings and killings. The public, lacking a clear moral system, flounders for a vision. And it calls for the most convenient solution: more government.

 Fifty years ago this week, President Bush said that "the true history of my administration will be written 50 years from now, and you and I will not be around to see it." Now, in 2054, I only wish I could go back and convince Americans to recognize George W. Bush's greatness when they had the chance.