President George W. Bush's approval ratings, at 47 percent, match those of President Barack Obama. During the dedication of his Presidential Library, the spotlight was on the tough decisions Bush made, the goals he strove to achieve and his unwavering belief in the greatness of America.
Admittedly, it is tough for me to be fully objective. I was always a huge fan of President Bush, for his convictions, strength of character and ability to stare down his critics. From the contentious 2000 election and its drawn out denouement, to Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, the financial crisis of 2008 and of course 9/11, Bush did not shy away from the challenges. Once a decision was made he did not bother second guessing himself.
Some of his policies did not work – pushing for free elections in the Middle East was the foreshadowing of the disaster that the elections in Egypt have been. However, looking at the George W. Bush Presidency and the events following it, it is easy to see why his approval has risen. Bush will forever be associated with 9/11, and his response in the face of the attack was resolute and successful.
The Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay, actions in Afghanistan and Iraq; all of the above combined to keep America safe for the remainder of his presidency. Bush's successor has also helped put him in a positive light. The anemic economic recovery, middling foreign policy and continued inability to lead have all been hallmarks of President Obama.
Add to those the shoddy approach to national security, which seems to have let the Boston Bombers fall through the cracks, and it becomes clear why there appears to be not only a vindication of Bush but a yearning for the times that were during his presidency.
As he gave his speech yesterday, Bush gave the GOP a glimpse of why he was able to become the sixth President to serve out two terms since 1900. The lesson to learn – find a thoughtful candidate who is not afraid to lead and can unite the conservative spectrum ranging from Wall Street to the churches on Main Street.
Bush closed his remarks by sharing his belief that America's best days are always in her future. The line conjured up images of Ronald Reagan's city on a hill in its optimism and inspiration, and is exactly the type of message the GOP needs to get back on the winning track to the White House.