According to his journalistic pals, former President George W. Bush is back home in Texas and at peace with himself. They say he is not angry, not down in the dumps over his pitiful poll numbers but serene in a judgment that history will be kind to him.
Allow me a dissenting voice, especially on the latter analysis by historians in the future who study his overall record.
I'm not breaking my stated vow to stop writing about Bush himself, but these comments are directed at his friends who are almost delusional in his overheated defense. We are talking in particular about George F. Will, William Kristol, Paul Gigot and his cohorts on the Wall Street Journal editorial pages, and, of course, Karl Rove, who is not a journalist but pretends to be one.
In his final salute to Bush in Newsweek magazine, Will made some remarkable comments.
He referred to some of today's critics of the seven-year war in Iraq as "unhinged." And he praised Bush's "ferocious focus" to thwart terrorists after the 9/11 attacks.
Critics of the miserable failure by the administration to prepare adequately for the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's downfall are hardly unhinged. In fact, they are entitled to their upset over the nonending follow-up. That ferocious focus of the president's on Iraq took him away from finishing the job in Afghanistan, a failure that still haunts us today—a mess left for the Obama team to clean up.
Kristol has confidently written that the war in Iraq has already been won. He has said it for a long time. Others have written that it is close to a real victory. Still to be determined, however, is if it will be a political victory with the religious factions in the country still at some odds over power sharing. When our troops leave (there is no coalition force as the Bush crowd claimed after it collapsed), we don't know the final chapter.
Will asserted that Bush had provided "excellent legacies" in putting Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court. Will was right that the pair are young enough to make decisions for decades.
That is exactly what worries those of us who opposed them. We can only take solace in knowing that President Obama opposed their nominations in the Senate and will likely pick justices closer to his views in the next four or eight years if vacancies occur.
To no one's surprise, Rove has been almost apoplectic in his columns in Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal. Bush could do no wrong if you are to believe Rove.
A reader of Rove's op-eds would think Bush had been FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower rolled into one if you didn't know the truth about the last eight years. For some of us, it was more like Hoover, Harding, and Coolidge rolled into one.