Guest Author - Linda Sue Grimes
Karl Rove, longtime friend and adviser to George W. Bush, left his White House position as Deputy Chief of Staff on August 31, 2007. In his article, “The Long View” on National Review Online, Rove offered his evaluation of President Bush’s administration and made some predictions about how history will treat the 43rd president.
Getting Presidents Wrong
Rove points out that “contemporary observers have a habit of getting presidents wrong, history tends to be more accurate.” For example, the Washington Post called Harry Truman a “spoilsman” and claimed that Truman underestimated the intelligence of the public.
James Reston of the New York Times miscalculated President Eisenhower’s effectiveness by calling him “a tired man in a period of turbulence.” Also, the New York Times got President Ronald Reagan wrong by brushing off his abilities as “simplistic” and calling him “lazy and inattentive.” None of these harsh criticisms has stood the test of time.
A More Clear-Eyed View
Thus, Rove believes that the true accomplishments of President George W. Bush will be noted instead of the “anger of current critics.” Rove says, “President Bush will be viewed as a far-sighted leader who confronted the key test of the 21st century.”
Making a disclaimer about his own observations, Rove writes, “I can hardly be considered an objective observer, but in this highly polarized period, who is?”
Rove believes that history will judge Bush “as a man of moral clarity who put America on wartime footing in the dangerous struggle against radical Islamic terrorism.” Bush will be lauded for changing American foreign policy by realizing that the sponsors of terror must be held accountable for their actions.
Bush will be hailed as a leader with foresight in realizing the threat and determining that “America will not wait until dangers fully materialize with attacks on our homeland before confronting those threats.”
Included in Bush’s leadership strengths are the “new tools” he gave the nation for defeating terrorism at home and around the world. The Patriot Act, foreign surveillance, a new intelligence community, and Department of Homeland Security are among those useful tools.
Bush will be credited with having the vision and understanding that spreading democracy is vital in the deterrence of terror. The Muslim world has long been plagued with authoritarianism and repression with the West suffering as its target. President Bush has understood that “democracy there makes us safer here.” As Nathan Sharansky has pointed out, democracies do not attack other democracies.
America’s Power for Good
America acted “while the world dithered” in fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa. The president’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief made available treatment for over 1.1 million people all over the globe. President Bush has been a leader in encouraging other world leaders to act against the violence and genocide in Sudan and Darfur.
This president has kept numerous human right issues on the “international agenda,” including continued oppression in North Korea. Bush has effected new “institutions and methods” for meeting challenges such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, which deals with the “transfer of dangerous material and information.”
Bush also changed American foreign aid policy to make it more accountable, transparent, and less corrupt, and he added “pro-democracy requirements.”
The American Economy
Facing an economy that was weakened by “terrorist attacks, corporate scandals, and out-of-control spending with discretionary domestic spending increasing 16 percent in the last fiscal year” of the Clinton administration, Bush cut taxes and spending with the result of 8.3 million new jobs. The tax cuts allowed firms to invest and expand.
America’s economic growth has exceeded that of other G7 economies. The Bush budget has the American economy headed toward a surplus by 2012. These economic advantages are apparent despite increased spending for security and fighting the war on terror. The economy has grown by 13 percent since the 2003 tax cuts took affect.
Social Issues and Values
President Bush will furthermore be seen “as a reformer who focused on modernizing important institutions.” Examples are education, health care, Medicare, immigration reform, legal reform, faith and community-based initiatives, energy, environment, and climate change.
Rove says, “In these and other areas, history will see President Bush drove policy in new directions, based on conservative principles.” He says the president will be recognized “as a strong advocate of traditional values.” And that he had the courage to “confront the biggest economic challenge America faces”—the Social Security system.
A Long Friendship
Karl Rove and George Bush have been friends for 34 years; Rove has observed how Bush has tackled the challenges that he has faced in service to his state as governor and his country as president. Rove knows the humility, decency, intelligence, thoughtfulness, and “the respect [Bush] has for every person” he meets.
About Bush’s worthiness, Rove writes, “History demands much of America and its leaders and I am confident it will judge the 43rd president as a man more than worthy of the great office the American people twice entrusted to him.”
Karl Rove’s “The Long View” on National Review Online