A letter to President George W. Bush
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by Ron Cruger
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I’ve changed my mind about you, Mr. President. The past seven years I have been critical of many of the actions and decisions you have made. My comments have not made me popular among my many Republican/Conservative friends. You should know, Mr. President, that you have many supporters in the land. No matter what decisions you have made, regardless of their consequences to the world or the nation, your supporters stood tall and backed you. They would allow no criticism of your actions, even when the faults of your actions were obvious and tainted.
From the beginnings of your adventure in Iraq I have groaned and opposed your decision to invade that far-away country.
From your prediction that U.S. troops would be greeted as “liberators” in Iraq to announcing that “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” to telling Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan about plans to go to war with Iraq before notifying Secretary of State Colin Powell, to your current non-action in the financial crisis gripping the nation and the world, I have been fervently opposed to many of your decrees, edicts and actions.
Now that you are only weeks away from leaving office, I have changed my attitude towards you. At first I was just peeved and critical of many of your decisions. Then I got angry. As the months and years rolled by it became increasingly difficult for me to watch you during your televised messages or your rare press conferences. You seem to have difficulty expressing yourself in a manner that builds the confidence of those listening and watching you. It’s not your fault. You’re just not good at leading a country. I’ve come around to thinking that the job asked too much of you. I know you tried.
I think that you are a good American. I believe that you have tried your best. I just think that the problems and situations that you faced during your two terms were too large and too complex for you to solve.
The whole “weapons of mass destruction” thing illustrates your lack of ability to think through a problem and have those surrounding you contribute intelligent alternatives which would lead to a reasonable resolution. Perhaps one of your shortcomings was an inability to surround yourself with people who might differ from you and even provide you with insightful and strong solutions.
There were other actions (or inactions) which have led me to alter my view of your presidency. I think you did your best during the Katrina tragedy. Here we had hundreds of thousands of Americans driven from their homes by hurricanes and rising waters. You relied on your judgment and those of the executives of FEMA to perform a rescue mission and you found that these men and women, led by you, were woefully short of the abilities needed to adequately correct the situation. I think that you grieved as we all did, as we watched the citizens of New Orleans struggle week after week to return their lives to some sense of normalcy. Thousands of them still struggle. I think that your grieving was real. It was just that the problem was too large for your abilities.
The intellectual ability needed to face the problems which have arisen during your tenure as President was enormous. Your years as President might have been more successful if you had placed around you men and women of ability, intelligence and the strength to differ with you. For some reason the people you hired didn’t want to give you their honest opinions. Either that or they knew that you wouldn’t listen to them anyway.
It is hindsight on my part, but I find it hard to believe that you relied on the judgments of Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld as long as you did. After all, enough is enough, isn’t it? I chalk these decisions up to your loyalty to friends. I used to think that there was some plot or scheme connected with you, Cheney and Rumsfeld, but now I know it was just poor judgment on your part – and theirs. You must like to stick with people that you’re familiar with – or that your dad was familiar with.
Mr. President, there were a lot of things that I differed with you about. One of the things that I’m really worried about is the enormous national debt that you’ve rung up during your presidency. Americans will be paying on that debt for generations. The spending during your time in office threatens the financial stability of the entire global economy. I always thought it was only the Democrats that ran up the big deficits.
There were things that happened during your presidency that only time will show us if there was some funny stuff taking place. Things like the multi- billion dollar contracts to Halliburton in Iraq. I guess you know how much they’ve been caught overcharging the government. Everyone is keeping an eye on this potential blockbuster and on Mr. Cheney’s involvement.
So, you see, Mr. President, I’ve changed my attitude towards you. I used to get angry and disgusted with the things you said and did, but I’ve changed. I feel kind of sorry for you. I think you did your best. It’s just that a guy’s best may not be good enough as President of the United States.
I hope you have a long and healthy retirement.
Thanks for trying.