This story was written by Hiromitsu Masuda, The Lantern
George W. Bush, the United States of America's 43rd president, is now in the closing months of his presidency. From the moment of his election, he has been a target for slander and vicious attacks. Even my closest friends hardly have had a good word to offer America's leader for the past eight years, so I feel I must break away from the crowd and say a few closing words for someone who I believe has been one of the country's greatest presidents.
Bush's approval ratings are low. Really low. So what? Rather than a negative, I see this as a potential good for Bush. One characteristic thought to be the most important for great leaders is integrity. In contrast with the behavior of past presidents like Clinton and Nixon, having integrity means being honest and adhering steadfastly to a strict moral or ethical code.
Instead of obsessing over himself and his popularity, Bush has made tough decisions in difficult times. Like the unpopular yet extremely successful General Patton in World War II, a great leader will do what has to be done and never compromise. Whatever bad things are said about Bush, people know who he is and what he stands for.
Throughout his term, Bush stayed true to his moral values. Despite receiving heavy flack from liberals, he decided not to cut off governmental cooperation with religious charities and to work with them like any other organization working to help the poor. Bush also stood by his decision to deny federal funding for far-fetched stem cell research. Even though he was vilified by political opponents for promoting the ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful and Condoms) method to slow the spread of HIV, which has been proven to work, he never wavered in his support for traditional moral values.
It never ceased to amaze me the lengths Bush's enemies went to insult his intelligence and decisions. Never before have I heard of tax cuts being labeled as evil until the Democrats attacked Bush's. The "tax cut for the rich" lie has been repeated so many times that most people believe it now. The simple fact is that Bush cut taxes across the board, in all income tax categories.
Now finally the big one: the Iraq War. A good leader has to make tough choices based on available information. Congress, including Democrats, voted to attack Iraq. Though personally I was against it, once committed, I knew we had to see it through the end. Bush resisted his weaker-willed opponents' demands to flee halfway and kept up the face of confidence and determination, like a future-focused leader should.
Now, as we witness the aftermath of this election, we can notice one important difference from Bush's election. For weeks and months after Bush won the two previous elections, opponents howled about voter fraud, and the opposing candidates refused to step down. Members of the Clinton administration reportedly ransacked the White House as they left, stealing numerous items and even ripping the "W" off many keyboards. Democrats this election had thousands of lawyers ready to contest the result if McCain won. Yet, as a great leader would, Bush graciously accepted his party's defeat and welcomed Obama as the new president, inviting him to sober discussions and briefings in the White House and providing ample opportunity for Obama's administration to pick things up smoothly.
He has shown good character and integrity, something a great president and leader would do.