I’m not a fan of President George W. Bush. I really haven’t been since his first election win in 2000 when the politics surrounding the election essentially stole that election from Al Gore. However history is something that happens around you whether you want it to happen or not. There are some things you just can’t change – but that you can improve on as you look forward. I do see President-elect Obama as being that sort of light at the end of the tunnel.

Notwithstanding – I feel that history is going to be alot kinder to G.W. than the almost villainous characterization that today’s society, both inside and outside the US, seem to making him out to be. I feel this way for two reasons each of which are at the opposite ends of the ethical and morale spectrum of human nature.

The first and most damning reason has to do with the way history immortalizes those who objectify war on a grand scale. Caesar, Napoleon, Lincoln, Hitler, Stalin. This is not so much a commentary on G.W. as it is on our broader society at larger. War establishes social narratives both good and bad which illicit strong emotional ties to contradictions which we as individuals struggle to try to understand. On the one hand killing is wrong. On the other is the need for protection and safety and security of communities in order to preserve our need to perpetuate ‘family’.

The human mind is very similar to a computer in that, at its very core, we reconcile differences through an understanding that A cannot be A and not-A at the same time. Eventually if you trace every ethical and moral dilemma back to its root beliefs you will find that it all comes down to a black and white understanding of what is real and what isn’t. The human mind is so complex however that what we perceive as shades of grey are no more than internal wars between root beliefs that are counter to each other. Hence the closer we get to challenging those root beliefs the more emotional the response as a means of coping with a fundamental breakage of what we understand to be true.

No more so are these root beliefs challenged than during times of war. While President-elect Obama may be leading the charge towards a new reconciliation of consciousness, it is G.W. that set us globally on the path. On balance most people will remember Ceasar, Hitler, Lincoln, and Stalin. Very few remember the men that followed them into their next “term of office” to clean up the aftermath.  

The second reasons has to do with the circumstances that Bush has been thrust into which by no account were of his own making. Very few leaders of the western world have had to deal with the challenges thrust upon them as G.W. has. Circumstance also plays a major role in the narratives which define society and social consciousness. Regardless of who was President at the time there have been events which will forever live in the history of people’s memories. The 9/11 attacks, the 2004 Tsunami, 2005 hurricane Katrina, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Regardless of whether these events were domestic or abroad there have been more unique one-off events in the last eight years of G.W.’s presidency than what we’ve seen in a very long time.

Regardless of whether these were man made or natural, I know I’m hard-pressed to find any world leader that has had to cope with so much in so short a time. There is a theory of leadership called Situational Theory which claims that great leaders are not born but rather are thrust into greatness by the events that surround them. One needs to look no further than the change in political fortunes of New York city mayor Rudy Giuliani whose leadership capabilities where thrust into a new light through his handling of the events of 9/11.

Human nature seems to be at its best when living in the moment. Those stories have been so plentiful over the past eight years that, love him or hate him, G.W.’s name will inevitably come up as part of those stories. Unless we see another active period whereby things beyond the control of any individual to understand or predict become common place, history will remember G.W. for no other reason than he was there.

So . . . while tempers are still hot about Bush’s presidency (a.k.a CNN’s poll showing a 76% disapproval rating – the lowest in the history of this type of polling) I feel that in the longer term history is going to be much more kind to G.W. than the way people feel now.

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