January 20, 2009

"Thank You, Mr. President"

As we stand on the threshold of a new administration, the nation wonders what they can expect of the incoming President. Eight years ago, we wondered the exact same thing about the new 43rd President, George W. Bush. As is the case today, many of us think we already know what to expect. But the truth is we don’t. As with President Bush, some of these expectations will be fulfilled while others will have to be cast aside. And future events will undoubtedly lead to actions and decisions that will surprise us.

More below the fold...

In 2001, most (though not all) of us welcomed a new President. Weary of the impeachment mess and leadership directed by focus groups and polls, it felt like once again the grown-ups were back in charge. And it was reassuring. Tax cuts and education reform were the major issues being wrestled with in Washington and we went on with our lives as if the times we lived in weren’t particularly historic. Before the year was out, however, the country would be shaken to its foundations and its citizens would find themselves staring at a cross-roads and a new threat – the likes of which we had never known before.

That day, September 11th, did not change our new President. It revealed what he was made of. In hindsight, it’s impossible to say whether Bush’s focus and determination was the reaction we would have expected from him. Perhaps even he wouldn’t be able to say it for certain either. But the reaction was a welcome one.

Fighting this threat became the primary focus of his Presidency, as it should be. Article II of the U.S. Constitution is a surprisingly short section addressing the Executive Branch. More than half of the words in Article II deal with the manner in which the President is elected. Very little verbiage is dedicated to the President’s actual duties and responsibilities. But the one primary role that our founding fathers’ intended for the Presidency and spelled out clearly was that of Commander-In-Chief of the military. And with that role comes the responsibility of protecting this nation from all those who wish it ill and seek to cause it harm. This is the one true job that the President is entrusted with in the Constitution.

During times of peace, the President, gratefully, doesn’t have to be very active in that role other than being vigilant against potential threats.

During a time of war, it must be his number one priority.

Today, we are in a time of war. We have two ground wars that need to be managed. But in the grander scope we continue to fight a war against an enemy that seeks to destroy us in any way that it can. They attack us because we represent the one thing that is the biggest threat to their own ideology and the foundation of their power – freedom.

We need a Commander-In-Chief as much today as we did on September 11th. We don’t need a National Morale Booster to make us feel better about ourselves. We don’t need a Changer-In-Chief. And we certainly could do without a Celebrity-In-Chief.

When we needed a leader to assure us that “we will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail”, George W. Bush stepped up and became that leader. We can all agree that, on many issues, Bush disappointed us and failed to live up to our expectations. But we can also agree that in the one role that the U.S. Constitution entrusted to him, he came through will flying colors.

And he did not shrink from the role one bit. His opponents on the Left and in the media chuckled when he called himself “The Decider” because they thought he meant that he believed himself to be the ultimate authority in the Federal Government. They were wrong. As “The Decider”, the President meant that he was prepared to make the difficult - and often unpopular - decisions as Commander-In-Chief and that he was also prepared to take full responsibility for them (not to mention the incessant criticism). The American people needed leadership and a President who would be a “decider” rather than an enabler, a waffler, an eternal deliberator or a panderer.

I, for one, am very grateful to President Bush. And as he heads out to his Crawford ranch for a well-deserved respite, I want to express my gratitude.

On behalf of my wife, my children and my fellow citizens, I want to say “Thank You, Mr. President”.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Because I truly hope and pray that in four or eight years from now, I can say the same thing again.

God speed.

Posted by Gary at January 20, 2009 09:30 AM | TrackBack

Well said.

Godspeed, Mr President, and thank you.

Posted by: kmr at January 20, 2009 10:46 AM

Sad thing is, we won't know for many decades just what decisions W. made to keep us secure, and what the threats were. It's like grading him without seeing the written half of his exam.

Posted by: rbj at January 20, 2009 03:41 PM