A college friend was lucky enough to be on hand at Andrews Air Force Base Tuesday to help send off President Bush. Looking at the pictures she emailed -- snapped while among the faithful few ditching the bandwagon events of the day to be with the man -- I could imagine the lump in my throat as I watched the man taxi down the runway and back home.
I was sorry then I hadn't written a proper farewell that day. Luckily someone in the Wall Street Journal has. That someone is someone the Left hates even more than Bush, but I invite you to dispute what He Who Shall Not Be Named has chosen for his central premise.
"To start with, Mr. Bush was right about Iraq. The world is safer without Saddam Hussein in power. And the former president was right to change strategy and surge more U.S. troops.I love that last part. You could argue Bush's remarkable ability to turn the other cheek allowed his opponents to totally frame his public image. You could argue his kind heart led him down a liberal path at times. But President Bush was undeniably a man of astonishing grace who deserves more than the unconscionable hate greeting him from some at #44's inauguration. I'm confident history will hold him in higher regard.
A legion of critics (including President Barack Obama) claimed it couldn't work. They were wrong. Iraq is now on the mend, the war is on the path to victory, al Qaeda has been dealt a humiliating defeat, and a democracy in the heart of the Arab world is emerging. The success of Mr. Bush's surge made it possible for President Obama to warn terrorists on Tuesday "you cannot outlast us."... And Mr. Bush, a man of core decency and integrity, was right not to reply in kind when Democratic leaders called him a liar and a loser. The price of trying to change the tone in Washington was to be often pummeled by lesser men."
Finally, as even the MSM pointed out Tuesday, he was a guy who meant it when he often yearned to return to rank-and-file American status, unlike most former presidents who pay their common citizenship lip service but "never end up leaving Washington." I take comfort then that he's in a better place -- Texas, which welcomed him back with open arms.
I miss the man already, and I know it will only get worse in the next four years.
(Read more of my thoughts looking back at the man's legacy, posted earlier here.)