The countdown to the beginning of the Obama administration has now reached four days. With that, the countdown to the end of the Bush Presidency has also reached four days. President Bush’s farewell speech was televised live last night to bring that reality home. Many have dreamed of that day – with many more probably disappointed that Bush wasn’t required to give the speech at a cell in the Hague. But Bush’s farewell speech went on from the White House, even if many weren’t paying attention.
The Bush farewell speech bought out about 15 minutes of air time on the major networks, starting at 8 p.m. Those in attendance included friends and family, Cabinet members, and several disaster survivors that the President met over the years.
As part of his final series of talks and speeches as President, Bush again reminded Americans that there were no terrorist attacks since 9/11. The farewell speech stressed that the threat remains, and that it will be the biggest challenge ahead for the Obama administration.
Managing to call Obama’s Presidency “a moment of hope and pride,” Bush’s farewell speech also tried to prop up the achievements of his own Presidency. Bush listed No Child Left Behind, the creation of Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito as some of those accomplishments.
The Bush farewell speech also allowed for some regrets to the financial crisis, while defending the recent bailouts. But the President did not list specific things that he would have done differently if given the chance, though he did say that there were some regrets.
Bush’s farewell speech adds to a long list of farewell addresses from Presidents. But off the top of most people’s heads, they can mostly remember just two of them. Those two are President George Washington’s farewell address in 1796, and President Eisenhower’s famed military-industrial complex speech in 1961.
Even if President Bush had said something in his farewell speech to match those other addresses, it may not have gotten much notice. Bush’s farewell speech was already an afterthought to many at the start of the day, as the hype for Obama’s inauguration continued to take up headlines.
But when the crash of US Airways 1549 on the Hudson River occurred, and the rescue of everyone on board was reported, the story instantly overshadowed the rest of the day’s news. After reporting on Bush’s farewell speech, networks likely just got right back to work on covering the Hudson River landing.
USA Today- “Bush warns of U.S. enemies in farewell address” www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-01-15-bush_N.htm
Associated Press- “Text of Bush’s farewell address Thursday” www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iKp-PAHfW8z5mhmIkpOvVAesxgdgD95NV5C00
US News- “Bush Farewell Speech? Ignore It” www.usnews.com/blogs/erbe/2009/01/15/bush-farewell-speech-ignore-it.html