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I got an e-mail the other day from my friend Mike Tomlinson containing an imaginary resignation letter from a fed up President Bush. I like the premise but the letter needed a rewrite and I have given it one.
Here it is.
My fellow Americans,
All available data shows that between seven and eight out of every ten of you disapprove of me and the job that I’m doing.
So I quit.
I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Lord knows, I tried. And no, I’m not quitting to avoid impeachment or prosecution. I have done nothing impeachable and nothing criminal.
I’m leaving because you’re sick of me and frankly, I’m a little sick of you.
You folks just don’t get it. Nothing about leading a great nation and nothing about being a great nation is easy. There will always be difficult problems that will have to be dealt with.
I will go to my grave believing that my predecessor got an extremely rare “free ride” in his eight years. That period of unusual calm served to create an unrealistic expectation among many of you — an expectation that America should be able to just coast comfortably and prosperously through life with little to threaten or challenge it.
Unfortunately, the lie was put to that belief barely nine months after I took this job. And things have been damned tough ever since.
Let’s start with Iraq. Regime change in Iraq was a policy that I inherited. You can look it up. It’s called the Iraq Liberation Act. It was voted 360 to 38 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. Bill Clinton signed it into law on Oct. 31, 1998. After the law’s passage, not much was done about it. Hell, I have to admit that I didn’t pay the Iraq Liberation Act much mind when I took office.
That all changed for me on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorists in the Middle East showed that they could really hurt us and hurt us badly. And they said out loud that they didn’t think we had the you-know-whats to do anything about it. In light of what happened that morning, I concluded that we could no longer allow Saddam Hussein to thumb his nose at us, the U.N. and the terms of the 1991 cease fire that had allowed him to stay in power. To leave him alone was to invite not only his bad acts, but also bad acts from other thugs who saw us as lacking the fortitude to even go so far as to enforce a military cease fire agreement that had been endorsed by the entire international community.
And I’m sick of the “Bush Lied, People Died” chant. I didn’t lie. Again, you can look it up. Every intelligence agency in the world, every member of the former Clinton administration and every leading Democrat believed, as I believed and still believe, that Saddam Hussein either had WMDs or was working to reconstitute his WMD program. What if we had waited until he had?
My first job is to protect our people and I have done so. I have captured and interrogated terrorists, I have listened in on the bad guys’ phone calls, I’ve shaken up the law enforcement and intelligence bureaucracies, I’ve deposed a brutal dictator and liberated 50 million people. And in all of that time, we have not been attacked again.
A little credit for that fact that would sure make me feel better.
Nobody remembers that I said at the outset of our efforts in the Middle East that it would be long, hard and expensive. Truly it concerns me that we in America have developed such a short attention span. The challenges that we face are not limited to news cycles or election cycles. The dangers that we face will not have gone away by the conclusion of the next season of ‘American Idol.’
I made a lot of mistakes in Iraq and I admit it. I would only say in my defense that mistakes are made in every war. FDR’s mistakes in World War II are little discussed today but he made a boatload of them. It was true for FDR, it is true now and it will be true for the next president that success in any pursuit is attained not by the absence of mistakes but in the perseverance through them.
Nobody in any Western government knows more about Iraq than I do. I have studied Iraq’s history and the history of the region surrounding it in ways that no American president ever has. Iraq is a subject upon which I can claim unique expertise. And I’m telling you now that if this nation is willing to persevere in Iraq, the grandchildren of our grandchildrens’ grandchildren will thank us for it.
Moving on, many of you are now blaming me for a slow economy. I’m sorry for that. I believe that you can point to two factors affecting our economy. The first is turmoil in the credit markets and the second is high energy prices.
For the life of me, I can’t figure how I’m to blame if millions of Americans borrowed too much money to buy a house they couldn’t afford. Nor can I see how I’m to blame for banks making stupid lending decisions.
As for energy, I began my administration by calling repeatedly for increased production of oil from U.S. sources to ensure that our energy supplies in the short run would be adequate to see us to to new energy technologies in the long run. Democrats in Congress and more than a few Republicans have thwarted me at every turn.
Let’s talk about Republicans. In addition to everything else, I’m supposed to lead my party. I have no defense on this one. The party is in tatters and it’s my fault. If I had used my veto pen in the first term, and made better use of the bully pulpit, I might have saved the Republicans in Congress from their irresponsible and often despicable behavior. (Of course, the Congressional leadership could have stepped up and helped a little bit. The Speaker and the Majority Leader could have kept some of the crap that got by me from getting to my desk in the first place.)
But they didn’t and I didn’t and with respect to Congress the children took over the daycare center. I’ll take the hit. My bad.
All of this might have been different if I were a better speaker. Wartime leaders like Churchill and Roosevelt had gifts that I lack. My ability to persuasively articulate my beliefs is limited and the country is the worse for it. More than anything, this may truly lie at the root of your disdain for me. Had I the oratorical gifts of one of the current candidates for this job, not only would you have more confidence in my decisions, those in the media and in politics would not have had the easy time beating on me that they have enjoyed for nearly eight years.
But look, folks. It’s over now and I’m not going to worry about it any more. I’m outta here.
Oh, and so is Dick Cheney. Nancy Pelosi is now the Commander-in-Chief.
Have a nice day.
Thank you, Mr. President. I would only add one thought to your letter.
I’ve covered numerous events where you have spoken. I have heard you say things that were thoughtful, eloquent and spot-on responsive to your detractors. Unfortunately, those remarks were heard only by the few hundred people actually at the events. Little of your best stuff was ever seen on the evening newscasts or in the morning papers. (your phenomenally eloquent speech last week to the Israeli Knesset being one of them). Your gaffes on the other hand (and we all make them) were played over and over and over.
No president in memory has dealt with a press that was so openly hostile and so driven to see an administration fail. Not even Nixon.
So go easy on yourself.