Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Bush: He Kept Us Safe

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

On January 20, Barack Obama becomes the leader of the free world. For some this ends eight long years of bitterness toward and frustration with President George W. Bush. The non-stop onslaught of resentment and rancor from the left and the main-stream media would have eventually compromised a less stalwart president. Bush, right or wrong, held steadfast throughout.

In spite of any faults one finds with his presidency- and there are many- in this there is no debate: Bush kept the homeland safe. Some attribute this to luck. But this type mindset led to the horrific assaults of 9-11.

We hope the new administration doesn’t lose sight of the elements that are hell-bent on destroying us. It is important our intelligence gathering agencies not be compromised or emasculated. Keeping the folks safe at home is the commander-in chief’s most important responsibility.

With the economic downturn center stage, the mandate for our new president will be to focus on returning our economy to sound footing. But whatever progress Obama makes would be short lived following another terrorist hit at home. Should that occur, any progress made toward economic recovery will seem minor compared to the destruction resulting from another attack.

The Associated Press reports that Obama will issue an executive order to close the U. S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, currently housing 250 al-Qaida and Taliban detainees. Many are suspects and potential witnesses to terror activity. The problem Obama will face is what to do with the inmates. Some are eligible for release, but many of their countries of origin are refusing to repatriate them. It has been suggested we build a new detainee retention facility in the U. S., automatically bestowing upon those currently being held in Cuba legal rights they now don’t posses. Bush also supports closing Guantanamo, but does not advocate relocating detainees here. I suspect most average Americans don’t either.

Many of Obama’s appointees to cabinet and agency positions have been fairly solid. There have been exceptions:

1) Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) had to withdraw his name from consideration as Obama’s new Commerce Secretary because of a federal grand jury investigation into his possible involvement in an alleged “pay-to-play” scandal in his home state.

2) Last week it was discovered that Timothy Geithner, Obama’s choice to head the Treasury Department, failed to pay $34,000 in taxes several years ago. In fact, the Washington Times reported last week that Geithner never attempted to resolve the tax issue completely until he found himself under serious consideration for Secretary of the Treasury.

Another Obama selection should send a chill down the spine of anyone who remembers the level of terrorist activity against the U. S. during the1990s. Seventy year- old Leon Panetta is the new president’s choice to lead the Central Intelligence Agency- the arm of government responsible for the gathering of intelligence and counter-intelligence data needed to prevent clandestine intrusions here and abroad.

In spite of this agency’s crucial importance, Obama has chosen someone with absolutely no practical intelligence background. A career politician, Panetta served 16 years in the U. S. House of Representatives. In 1994 he became President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff where he presumably was privy to intelligence briefings. His supporters in fact use this as justification for why Panetta is qualified to run the CIA. But there were seven terrorist attacks against this country and its interests during Clinton’s reign. Was the intelligence bad? Or was good intelligence mismanaged, misinterpreted or ignored? We don’t need a repeat of the security failures of the past. What we do need is someone in charge of this agency that has more than good management skills. We need an intelligence expert. Panetta shouldn’t qualify.

I, along with other Americans, have been disappointed with some aspects of the Bush presidency. For me, his failure to help enact meaningful immigration reform was a missed opportunity. Bush also lacked fiscal discipline, at times spending money like a drunken sailor. And the perception by the media of a delayed response to Katrina probably hurt his presidency more than anything else.

Some unfairly want to blame the entire economic debacle on Bush. There is plenty of blame to go around. Others point to our invasion of Iraq as egregious. While there were strategic blunders aplenty from the outset, it appears that significant elements of stability have finally taken hold. Our military can eventually leave Iraq claiming success, something few thought possible two years ago.

There have been other accomplishments, including hefty tax cuts. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security and was instrumental in establishing the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. And often overlooked are his efforts in securing massive assistance for Africa in its war against HIV-AIDS. Bush’s cabinet appointments reflected ethnic diversity and his administration was “relatively” free from scandal.

Most importantly, Bush has kept this nation safe at a time when terrorist attacks have been rising elsewhere. He had the fortitude and resolves to do whatever necessary to accomplish it. His fiercest critics even acknowledge that. In his final address to the nation last Thursday evening, Bush said, “There is legitimate debate about many of those decisions, but there can be little debate about the results.”

Bush leaves the Oval Office with his approval rating in tatters. Perhaps history will assess him differently. But we don’t have to wait for history’s judgment to know this: George W. Bush helped keep this nation free from terrorist attacks every single day since September 11, 2001. For that we can all say, “Thank you, Mr. President.”

I agree with that. No one who understands the good job President George W. Bush did as Commander in Chief, can doubt we owe him our appreciation for that. My endorsement of this “thank you” comes from someone who on most other issues, is NOT a Bush fan.


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