Am I deceiving myself, or has the American press and editorial pundits begun to dispense with what was once obligatory Bush bashing and Bush hatred? Here we are, half a year after the inauguration of Barack Obama, and suddenly, some commentators can no longer refrain to give George W. Bush some credit for doing something good, other than saying over and over that he was the worst President in American history.
First was Times reporter Dexter Filkins, writing in a recent issue of The New Republic on the history of the US war in Iraq and Afghanistan, explained that “Whatever one’s view of the war, it is impossible to deny that in the eleventh hour Bush was right.” (my emphasis) By giving his support to the new strategy of the surge, despite major opposition from within and without his own administration, the former President helped turn the situation around and created the conditions that might lead to a democratic Iraq.
Now, writing in today’s New York Times, the most influential commentator in our country on foreign policy, Thomas L. Friedman, devotes his column to the victory for the democratic forces in Lebanon, where he went to observe the election. Friedman sees the electoral success of Saad Hariri’s March 14th coalition as a major rebuke to the Islamists and to Hezbollah, who no longer can push Lebanon into a war against Israel and who have made clear by their vote that they want a nation run by Lebanese, not by Syria or Iran.
Then Friedman observes:
While the Lebanese deserve 95 percent of the credit for this election, 5 percent goes to two U.S. presidents. As more than one Lebanese whispered to me: Without George Bush standing up to the Syrians in 2005 – and forcing them to get out of Lebanon after the Hariri killing – this free election would not have happened. Mr. Bush helped create the space. Power matters. Mr. Obama helped stir the hope. Words also matter.
I had to re-read his sentence twice. Imagine. Not only giving George W. Bush major credit for “standing up to the Syrians,” but equating him with having a positive influence akin to that of Barack Obama.
What wonders will we see in the future?