My final critique of the Bush presidency has to do with communication. A president must be able to connect with the American people and explain what he is doing. He will not convince everyone of the rightness of his policies, but he must make the effort, which most people will at least respect.
George Bush started well. After 9/11, his speech to a joint session of Congress was one of the best presidential speeches in recent memory. He was at his best. Unfortunately, he seemed to peak with that speech.
Ever since the Democrats took Congress in the 2006 elections, it’s as if we have had an invisible president. I don’t remember any president in my lifetime disappearing from the public scene as completely as this one has. I have been frustrated many times, wishing he would show more fortitude and combativeness. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you set aside your arguments and become a whipping boy for your enemies. You need to stand firm.
Bush was usually halting in his speech, and was obviously uncomfortable in a number of public speaking venues. That did not serve him well. If indeed there is “Bush fatigue” in the nation, part of the blame is that he became a virtual nonentity, unable to convincingly defend his policies, particularly on Iraq.
What does the Republican party need? Two things:
- First, principled leadership–politicians who have foundational beliefs based on the Constitution, rule of law, and Biblical morality.
- Second, leaders who can communicate their principles. There really are a lot of principled people out there getting involved in the political arena, but not many of them seem capable of connecting with people and making the message understandable and appealing. That was the quality Ronald Reagan possessed. Perhaps that is why we are always looking for “the next Reagan.”
President Bush, I salute you for keeping the country safe and for upholding constitutionalism in your choices for the Supreme Court. If you had grounded your domestic policies on principles consistent with the Constitution, you would have left a glowing legacy. As it is, we are now searching for new and effective leaders who can rebuild on the proper foundations.