So let’s go ahead and have a conversation about this white elephant in the room that David French at National Review brought to light on Thursday when he wrote (see The Republican Party Needs to Honor GWB):
Watching the adulation heaped on Barack Obama last night, I was reminded of the shameful way the GOP — and the conservative movement more broadly — has treated George W. Bush. The last Republican to win a national election has become an object of scorn and mockery in many quarters of the Republican world.
Watching the Democratic convention this week, something interesting jumped out at me. Democrats had embraced 9/11 and emphasized how it drew Americans together in 2001. Thursday evening New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state witnessed so many deaths on that fateful day, recalled the terrorist attacks and noted that we did not see ourselves as black, brown, or white that day, but rather we were red, white, and blue. We cried together, he said, mourned together, and then we rebuilt together. We were Americans.
Republican President George W. Bush led that effort, calming a fearful nation and pulling together a coalition of nations to fight the war over there, not here on the homeland. During this campaign, however, he was blamed for 9/11 by the 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
It’s almost comical to watch many of the same people who derided Bush as a “big-government Republican” wrap both their arms around a bigger-government populist. It’s sad to see critics who attacked Bush’s anti-terror strategy fail to recognize that it did, indeed, keep us safe after 9/11. His strategy — taking the fight straight to the enemy — rocked terrorists on their heels so much that only three Americans lost their lives to domestic terror attacks during the rest of Bush’s two terms. If you’d told virtually anyone in the days after 9/11 that the next seven-plus years would be almost entirely peaceful here at home, they would have laughed at your optimism. We felt that the next blow would land at literally any moment.
… By the time he left office, al Qaeda was a shell of its former self, and the Iraq war was largely won. By the time he left office, he’d taken all the necessary measures to prevent true financial catastrophe. And, by the way, he not only had a better record at judicial nominations than either his father or President Reagan, he handled an enormous amount of incoming hate and vitriol with class and dignity. Is he not worth respecting? Is he not worth honoring? I sincerely hope that the GOP of 2020 is a more decent organization than it is today, and it gives Bush the kind of moment the Democrats gave Obama. He deserves our applause.
Indeed. It’s been 16 years since the tragedy of 9/11. It’s time to properly honor President George W. Bush for his leadership.
“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.”
–George W. Bush (address to the nation, September 11, 2001)