Bush Is No Lincoln

At another time, in another age, George Bush might have thrived and been considered a success. It is a shame -- and may ultimately prove to be disastrous -- that he ended up being president during the last eight years.

In truth, the world has changed dramatically during the Bush imperium, and it is impossible to say today whether the president's policies acted as  a catalyst that hastened and magnified these changes or whether there were other, more subtle forces at work that would have brought about the upheavals we have seen regardless of who sat in the Big Chair. It is something historians must decide after time has had its way with all of us and we have long since "shuff'd off this mortal coil" and touched the face of eternity.

History certainly has a way of taking some participants by the scruff of the neck and tossing them about willy-nilly, flinging them challenges for which they are neither prepared nor capable of managing. George Bush may have made a nice president in the 1950s. Or perhaps the 1880s, when the Gilded Age was in full bloom and self indulgence was a national religion.

Not lacking in brains and possessing a confidence that bordered on arrogance, President Bush would probably have thrived in less interesting times. But the challenges that emerged beginning with the attacks on September 11, 2001, right on through today's financial meltdown of which we still haven't glimpsed bottom, showed a man out of his depth, lacking in judgement, unable to come to grips with the forces that were reshaping the world and America. He is not without gifts. But when a president is proved wrong by events as often and as consistently as Bush, there is little alternative but to conclude that he was the wrong man at the wrong time for America.

It can't entirely be the fault of the press. It can't all be the fault of the Democrats. At some point, the leadership of the president himself must be examined for clues as to why the United States is in the position we are today -- a nearly broken military; a dicey and still reversible situation in Iraq; losing in Afghanistan; the enemies of freedom on the march in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, East Asia, and points in between. The world is worse off and Americans are worse off because George Bush was president.