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Thank you, Mr. President
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 by Ron Cruger
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   Especially during the past few weeks, friends, readers and non-friends have “accused” me of being (a) a flaming liberal, (b) an ultra-conservative, (c) an independent voter, (d) a guy who doesn’t know what he wants.
        I must confess, that at various times, each of the labels they’ve stuck on me is correct.
        For clarity sake there should be a name for my beliefs.
        I could be called a “Consiberal.” Or a “Liberative.” Maybe a “Conservalib.” Or a “Conservaral.” How about a “Demican,” or a “Republicrat.”
        Ah, what the heck, let’s stick with the old fashioned label. It comes closest to my beliefs – I’m an “Independent voter.” The way things are now I don’t want to belong to any political party. With our struggling economy we find the two political parties battling each other when they should be battling the problems we face and correcting them with haste.
        In one of his finest moments, President George W. Bush offered the country his final speech, a goodbye to all Americans and presumably, the world.
        Mr. Bush left office with the highest disapproval rating of any president since Richard Nixon. Mr. Bush mentioned in his farewell speech, “You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made, but I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.” Okay.
        President Bush claimed policy successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, seeing Democracy growing in those two countries. Okay. Maybe.
        I didn’t agree with some of President Bushes observations about his eight years in office, but I have come to understand him better. He is not a great communicator in the line of Reagan or Obama. He seems to be uneasy when speaking to the American public. He rationalizes a lot over his decisions. But, during this, his last speech, he seemed to be enjoying himself. He was obviously glad to be leaving the office. I don’t blame him. He has had a devil of a time.
        After watching his final speech I have changed somewhat my feelings towards the man.
        Watching the ceremony earlier in the week where his father, George H. W. Bush, attended the launching the U.S. Navy’s new aircraft carrier, the “George H.W. Bush,” I thought of how closely the Bush family has been involved in our nation’s recent history. Two presidents and two governors of states. In addition to Bush senior being a decorated war hero.
        A pretty nice contribution to the history of the United States by one family. Oh, they’ve gained some by holding office, but they did give up a number of years to the service of their country.
        Iraq will be the benchmark for the appraisal of the Bush years in the White House. The fighting has slowed down as have the deaths, but I find it hard to believe that Al Qaeda and the rest of the militant Islamic terrorists in the Middle East have given up on the battle to control Iraq. A temporary peace may be found in the battle of Gaza, but the hatred, fears and determination of the combatants will not stop polluting that portion of the world. The wars of the area will continue for decades to come.
        Any president in office for the past eight years would have the right to state that he has kept America from being attacked after the 9/11 tragedy.
        Perhaps it was the actions that President Bush took that has kept America from being attacked again. Maybe his leadership has resulted in the absence of another assault on American soil. Maybe. To the leader goes the credit as well as the blame.
        As Charles Krauthammer stated, “Those are precisely the elements which kept us safe and which have prevented a second attack.” Maybe.
        President Bush has been vilified and abused regarding not only his ability to lead as well as some of his decisions – Katrina, Abu Ghraib, even the original decision to attack Iraq.
        I’ve never been a fan of President Bush. I don’t hate him, he just makes me uncomfortable. Always has.
        Now, that he approaches life as a private citizen I wish him well. I will leave it to history to analyze his efforts. From now on I will keep my feelings about his presidency to myself.
        The man gave eight years of his life to this country. That is more than most of us will donate. I offer him my thanks for his service as I offer his successor my sincere and profound best wishes.
        Let’s all move on and let us hope that Democrats and Republicans (and Independents) can work together quickly to solve the enormous problems facing our nation. The fashion of the future of our country lies in the balance. It is time to put aside the labels, the selfish goals, the petty politics – it is time to solve the problems and begin the healing process.
        What’s done is done. Let us not look back. Ahead lay the dangers we must face and in order to meet them and win we must be united and be led with intelligence, understanding, confidence and courage.
        And so, Mr. Bush, we offer you our thanks and our wishes for a long, healthy and happy life. What good would it do to do otherwise?