On August 11, 2010, troops arriving home at DFW Airport from Iraq and Afghanistan were greeted with a real surprise: former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura were standing inside the terminal to shake hands, give hugs, and take pictures as the soldiers got off the plane. When I saw photographs from that day I immediately wondered why we’d yet to see pictures of Obama shaking hands with troops and at least appearing to be happy while doing so.
I’d had similar feelings on November 7, 2009, after news broke that Bush and his wife had spent a few hours meeting with victims (and the families of victims) of the Ft. Hood shooter. Obama, for his part, delivered a speech the day after the shootings in which giving “a shout out” to supporters of health care reform took precedence over addressing the massacre. As usual, it was all Obama all the time.
And this brings me to the central point of this piece — namely, the assertion that Bush is still more presidential than Obama. Even recent polls conducted by Democrats have confirmed this by showing that “Bush [is] more popular than Obama in vulnerable congressional districts.” Candidates for Congress in these areas run for the hills to avoid Obama if he happens to roll into their district. (It should be noted that this isn’t a sudden or recent development. As early as December 2009, Politico reported that while 50% of voters approved of Obama, 44% were already longing to have Bush back in office.)
Although all the reasons for Bush’s resurgence in popularity may be impossible to pin down with precision, we cannot overlook the contrast between the way he and Obama feel about this country. Throughout his presidency, and even now, Bush held this country in high esteem while Obama literally “doesn’t like America the way it has been since its founding,” according to Tony Blankley. And people sense this about Obama: he has “a chip on his shoulder,” a grudge he holds against this country which Bush would never have allowed to maturate during his administration.
Moreover, Bush just seems genuinely human. We realized this shortly after the attacks on 9/11, when we watched news clips of Bush sobbing as he prepared the nation for the pending War on Terror by saying: “I’m a loving man, but I have a job to do.” We cheered for him when he stood with his arm around a fireman’s neck at Ground Zero and shouted into a bullhorn: “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” On the other hand, Obama is a stiff. And because he can’t speak from the heart about anything except liberalism, he has to travel with a teleprompter in case he needs to read an even somewhat patriotic speech to the people.
I believe people also respect the fact that Bush did what needed to be done to protect the U.S. from another terrorist attack, even when doing so had waned in popularity. Voters still remember that it was Bush who supported the surge that turned the tables on our enemies in Iraq and put victory back in our grasp, while it was Illinois Senator Barack Obama who opposed the surge by saying: “We can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, [or] 30,000 more troops, [but] I don’t know any expert … who believes that is going to make a substantial difference on the ground.”
Obama was wrong on the surge (it did work), and Americans are now waking up to the fact that he’s wrong on a lot of other things as well. He’s wrong on the economy, he’s wrong on financial reform, he’s wrong on health care reform, he’s wrong on his refusal to treat terrorists like terrorists, and he’s wrong for painting a picture of America as a country that isn’t exceptional. And while this isn’t to say that Bush got things right every time, honest readers will have to admit that at least Bush was motivated by a love for country instead of an ideologically driven agenda that only Fidel Castro could appreciate.
Thank you, George W. Bush, for your service to this country. Thank you for your decency. And thank you for your enduring support for the troops.