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The International Writers Magazine: It's Over - Get Used to It

From Texas to Illinois:
The Changing of the Guard
Mike Hardie

‘I will be guided by President Jefferson's sense of purpose, to stand for principle, to be reasonable in manner, and above all, to do great good for the cause of freedom and harmony. The presidency is more than an honour. It is more than an office. It is a charge to keep, and I will give it my all. Thank you very much and God bless America.’
(Governor George W. Bush Delivers Remarks, 2000)

Those were the words that were met with raucous applause from the masses of celebrating Republicans on December 13th 2000. The President-elect and incumbent Governor of the state of Texas, George W. Bush, had just finished his acceptance speech from within the Texas House of Representatives. Coming off the back of a bitter election rivalry with Democrat counterpart Al Gore, Bush promised a ‘bipartisan’ effort on his part to offer the most universal and benevolent leadership possible. But eight years later, and in the wake of Barack Obama’s successful election campaign, just what will be the legacy of Bush’s two terms of Republican rule?

The blindingly obvious testaments of the past eight years that will forever remain foremost in the public eye are most likely Bush’s delayed and disorganised response to both the World Trade Centre attacks of September 11th and the humanitarian disaster of Hurricane Katrina. The footage of the President reading to a classroom of children as the news of 9/11 broke will undoubtedly overshadow many moments when conjuring defining images of his tenure. In the wake of the devastating tropical storm that hit New Orleans, evidence of Bush’s ill preparation and insufficient delegation of aid is still visible in the recuperating Louisiana city three years later.

However, in the search for any permanent legacy that will remain in the wake of George W. Bush, one must look beyond the jurisdiction of the United States of America. Indeed, at this moment in time it seems that Bush will be remembered as much for his questionable ‘liberation’ of Iraq as with his leadership of America. Founded upon the claims that Saddam Hussein was harbouring Weapons of Mass Destruction, 2003 saw a unified upheaval of Iraqi government by invading Western forces. This mass intervention was, of course, led by Bush’s Secretary of Defence at the time, Donald Henry Rumsfeld. The wide acceptance that the information that fuelled the invasion was known to be false was not the only travesty to be beget by the Iraq occupation. Occupation is undeniably the only suitable term for the current situation in Iraq, as ‘war’ insinuates a mutual struggle on the part of two opposed armies; this has clearly not been the case in the utterly traumatised nation. The allied forces that subjected Iraq to ‘emancipation’ from Tali
ban rule also failed to deliver an adequate exit plan and are now left knee-deep in a quagmire of unwarranted deaths and rupturing civil structures. It will now fall to Barack Obama and his Ministry of Defence to rectify this chaotic episode of global politics in the post-Bush era.

Then there are the popularly bandied "Bush-isms" that frequently featured in national tabloids in the wake of many press addresses and conferences in which Bush unwittingly made a lamentable error of judgement. Such comic remarks have seen Bush derided not only as a political figurehead, but also as a social figure, bordering on the "celebrity".

Despite this catalogue of erroneous miscalculations, the legacy of George W. Bush will be assuredly interspersed with valid and rational decisions which benefited the people whom he served and proved that he really did "give it his all". One of the principal examples of Bush’s foresight proving successful was the appointment of Condoleezza Rice as 66th Secretary of State in 2005. As a successor to Colin Powell, Rice was the first black American to be sworn in as Secretary of State and only the second female Secretary of State, following Powell’s predecessor, Madeleine Albright.
Bush leaves the White House at a time of great, and well-documented, economical crisis, taking part of the blame with him. But it remains to be seen if the potential of Barack Obama will be tested in waters as turbulent as those his predecessor had to navigate. Certainly, he will have a thankless task in restructuring foreign policy and financial support to see, not only America, but the world, through the impending next four years. It is distinctly clear that improvements can be made upon Bush’s pioneer reign in the 21st century, and Obama has proved equal to every test of his merit to better the former Texas Governor, so far at least.

Governor George W. Bush Delivers Remarks. (2000). Retrieved November 31, 2008, from CNN News website:

© Mike Hardie Nov 24th 2008

Mike is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

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