The legacy of Bush’s big ideas

By Billy Joe Mills

It’s fun and it’s cool to hate Bush, plus it’s easy to do. He invents words as often as liberals invent rights. When it comes to wars I sometimes think more sophisticated strategy and diplomacy goes into the Risk game I play with my friends.

But for all the idiocy, he still has the big picture right. In the long run that is what’s remembered.

Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton were intensely hated by many people during their presidencies but since then have been viewed more favorably. Kennedy bungled, among other things, the Bay of Pigs invasion, but we remember him for his visionary and optimistic liberalism. The Reagan Administration survived the Iran-Contra Affair, multiple lobbying scandals and other controversies. Today he is remembered for his upbeat charm and aggressive conduct of the Cold War. Clinton’s popularity ratings sunk into the mid 30’s during the Lewinsky Affair; today they are in the high 50’s as we recall the blissful prosperity of the 1990’s.

Scandals and controversies inflame the nation as they happen, but time tends to melt the edges away to leave the raw core. We remember presidents for the big things they did and the big American ideas they announced.

Bush hasn’t conformed to the popular or the conservative will. In his second term he has done things he feels are right, regardless of their popularity on either political side. Isn’t this what we hope for from politicians?

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    Social Security and health care present major long-term solvency issues that most politicians would prefer to leave for the future. Bush has been one of the first bold enough to talk about them and to propose the adoption of free market measures, which will prove to be most efficient.

    Lower taxes and commitment to free markets worldwide has rejuvenated the economy. The last two years have seen above average growth in gross domestic product. This year will likely be no different. The unemployment rate is a historically and internationally low 4.6 percent. Bush has taken leadership in immigration reform by proposing a reasonable compromise that has angered both liberals and conservatives, a sure sign that it is a good plan.

    Now our favorite jack in the box – Iraq. Bush’s entire legacy probably rests on this big idea. The Bush Doctrine states that the United States should spread liberty by force to free foreign people and as a means of self-defense. In 15 years Iraq will be secure and free and al-Qaeda will be nearly extinct. The Middle East will be held by the nascent but strong grip of democracy.

    Rather than the actions he took in the war on terrorism, the inaction he took in Sudan should be remembered as his crimson sin.

    Yes, I know it’s not cool to defend the President. But history will remember the big Bush ideas and forget the smaller errors. Look at his big ideas through an honest, dispassionate and long-term lens. He will be remembered as an above average president who set a fundamental course for posterity.

    Billy Joe can be reached at [email protected].