President George W. Bush appeared on national television for the last time Thursday night (January 15) while everyone was watching the news channels’ minute-to-minute coverage of the “Miracle on the Hudson” and the last episode of Gil Grissom (William Petersen) on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
Oh, no, wait, that is incorrect. The last episode of William Petersen came on after a rerun of Laurence Fishburne’s first episode, which began after the president’s farewell address. But I fell asleep after the president thanked his wife for something and woke up when the rerun began, so…
It seems that this writer was in pretty good company. The vice president, Mr. Dick Cheney himself, also dozed during the president’s farewell address. (In our defense, the speech was lacking in credibility and importance, nor is it likely to be seen as a pivotal or historic speech, such as that of President Dwight Eisenhower.) But he roused himself in time to leave.
Really, though, was it necessary for the president to give a farewell speech? I mean, most people thought he had already vacated the Oval Office. Judging from the way he has been running the country since Senator Barack Obama became President Elect Barack Obama, he probably should have resigned on November 5.
Speaking of President Elect Obama, it was reported that he and his wife and a group of about a dozen people went to Equinox restaurant in Washington, D.C., Thursday evening. A source told CBS News that the President Elect did pause by the television at the bar for a couple minutes, but did not linger.
He also did not ask the bartender to turn the volume up.
Time magazine summed up Bush’s farewell Ode to a Yawn thus: “TV barely cut to him in time for his first words Thursday evening and couldn’t wait to cut away when he finished 13 minutes later.”
So what exactly did the outgoing president have to say?
No one seems to know (because most were watching coverage of the “Miracle of the Hudson”) so this writer turned to a transcript of the farewell address to see what the president actually said.
He began by thanking a lot of people. A lot of people.
Then he defended himself and his administration’s policies for the next ten minutes. And the pure banality of what president George W. Bush’s administration has devolved into, the unpresidential pleading for understanding and pathetic beseeching of America to judge him well after he’s gone, became all too apparent in five sentences halfway through his farewell address:
“There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.”
Yes, the last thing president George W. Bush wants the American public to do while he is still president is agree that he was willing to do the job the American people expected him to do. The Decider, sounding somewhat unsure of his standing in his farewell address, tells the people that when he decided, he might have decided differently, but he decided on the side of what was right, and he was willing to do that. And he hopes you can agree with the fact that he was all too willing to make tough decisions that, in 20/20 hindsight, he might not decide in the same way. In a bizarre and convoluted way, the Decider decided in his farewell address to tell Americans he would have decided things differently.
Differently from right is wrong.
I am certain that many Americans can agree with the president that he was wrong. A lot.
Why didn’t president George W. Bush save us all the trouble of the torture of listening to all that “history will exonerate me” patter and just tell us he was wrong? Well, to be fair, he could have thanked his wife for sticking by him. And Vice President Cheney, of course, for doing all the behind-the-scenes work (the vice president may have stayed awake for that) that made his presidency such an unqualified success in what not to do to be an effective leader. (The behind-the-scenes guys never get enough credit. Watch any award show and everybody that gets an award tells you so…)
Dick Cheney and I could have watched something other than the inside of our eyelids for the next twelve and one-half minutes. Like “Miracle on the Hudson” coverage.
Or “CSI.” It was William Petersen’s farewell as well…
I don’t know about the Vice President, but I would not have fallen asleep while watching either of those.
“Farewell Address,” CBS Television
“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS Television