In less than forty-eight hours, the incumbent President will leave the White House for the last time while the newly inaugurated President will begin his term of office. Even though this happens every four or eight years, each departing and arriving seems different. A lot has to do with what the incumbent did or didn’t accomplish in his years in office. Even more depends on what the public thinks about those accomplishments or lack of.
Last night George W. Bush gave his official farewell address to the nation. I watched it in real time and then saw it again in its entirety later in the evening. I can’t say I gleaned anything new in either viewing. President Bush stuck to what has been his main theme since September 11, 2001. He talked about how our country is safer because of his tackling the “hard” decisions, how democracy is thriving elsewhere, how it’s our job to make sure it does thrive. He spoke of Afghanistan and how women are now being allowed to attend school there. (Forget the fact that some women have had acid thrown in their faces for trying.) He spoke of Iraq and called it a budding democracy in the Middle East. (Forget the fact that the country has lost thousands upon thousands of its citizenry to this democracy).
He didn’t mention the economy, which is certainly in a severe slump, or New Orleans, which has certainly not recovered. He didn’t mention Gitmo or “Mission Accomplished.” Or Scooter Libby. I honestly didn’t expect him to. In fact, I’m willing to acknowledge that a farewell speech attempts to end on a high note.
The only thing is that Bush’s speech sounded like revisionist history to me.