Published April 24, 2013
How time flies! This week I will be attending the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was campaigning for him for the highest office in the land. Yet, it was more than 14 years ago. So many things have transpired since then. Many memories, some beautiful, some painful, will be relived during the ceremony and the events surrounding the dedication.
Whatever individual minds may think of President Bush, gratitude ought to be in their hearts. People that examine his time in office will find ample evidence of the many very difficult decisions he had to make on behalf of the American people. If history serves as an indication of how people in office are judged, then I believe history will be more generous to him than whatever polls indicated at the end of his presidency.
Clearly 9-11 changed the course of this nation. This was the first time that America sustained unimaginable damage at home by terrorists whose hate for our principles and core values was so strong that they were willing to die in the process of killing thousands of unsuspecting, undeserving and innocent people. As commander in chief, President Bush’s first and foremost concern had to be the safety of the millions of people that made America their home. From then on, all of his decisions had to be made through that prism. His resolve was unequivocal and his determination fierce. He would go on to ensure America would not suffer again another 9-11. Under his watch we were kept safe.
Most people forget that we were in a full recession when President Bush came into office. His economic policies, especially the tax cuts, ensured that the recession was short-lived and that after 9-11 we did not go into a double-dip recession. As a member of the economic team I remember vividly going around the country explaining his tax-cuts package. America welcomed the tax cuts, and economic growth was restored. Once again it was his clear and unambiguous decision-making process that enabled him to succeed.
The same can be said about his policies on education, healthcare, Medicare, Immigration and freedom abroad. He was and still is a man of deep and strong convictions. His core principles are unchangeable. They are rooted on a basic but profound respect for our constitution.
What sustained him was an almost palpable faith in a higher calling. I fondly remember a meeting he had with some of his appointees soon after I joined his administration. He talked vividly and unabashedly about his belief that we were there for purposes greater than our own; that in answering our calling to public service, we were being granted a unique opportunity to serve our fellow man; that we were chosen to serve America at a time of great need. That humbling feeling he projected to all of us deeply inspired me.
I will forever be indebted to President George W. Bush. His library is a fitting tribute to him and to the greatness of our country.