Each year I name a Broadside Person of the Year to acknowledge the accomplishments of an individual who has contributed to the common good of his or her fellow Americans. Admittedly, candidates are run though a military filter – their achievements are seen through the eyes of one who spent a career in the armed forces. So it may not be trendy to say this, but this year’s Broadside Person of the Year is President George W. Bush.
2008 was a tough year for President Bush. He weathered unceasing attacks by politicians, the media, and pollsters. He was shunned by his own party during the election cycle, reduced to little more than a ceremonial video appearance at the Republican National Convention. Then the economy tanked. Tough year indeed.
But as Commander-In-Chief, the story is different. The President continued his rock-solid support of the military he commanded. No one on earth will dispute the fact that the U.S. military is the best in the world, and getting better.
Confronted with the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, he took action to prevent another. Seven years later, that action has proven to be effective, a fact that few would have predicted in the aftermath of September 11th. His approach to fighting terrorism was to go on the offensive. Combat operations have been fought “over there”, and potential terrorist acts against the United States have so far been inturrupted before they could come to fruition.
The Iraq War is all but over, and the good guys are winning. Overall violence has dropped 80 percent since the surge began. Murders in Iraq are below the murder rate before the U.S. began operations in 2003. Daily attacks by insurgents have dropped 95 percent since last year. Iraq continues to assume an increasing role in its own defense, and a new American embassy opened its doors on January 5th. Most significantly, Iraq and the U.S. have agreed to terms for withdrawal by 2011. General Petraeus was the BPOY last year, and some might argue that success in Iraq would warrant another award, but as Christopher Chantrill said in The American Thinker, “It was Lincoln who picked Grant, Roosevelt who picked Eisenhower, and Bush who picked Petraeus. Let’s give credit where credit is due to the president that hired the general.”
That being said, it has been his unwaivering support of the military that many in uniform have appreciated the most. During his tenure the defense budget increased, as have military benefits. He has an affection for the troops that is impossible to miss.
(White House photo)
In a December visit to Afghanistan, he told the troops: “You know, they often say, what are you going to miss? I’ll miss the airplane, of course. (Laughter.) But I’m mainly going to miss being the Commander-in-Chief of such an outstanding group of men and women.” (whitehouse.gov)
That thought pretty much sums it up.
President-elect Obama will have my support and respect when he takes office, and the millions of those wearing the cloth of the nation will give him the same, because that’s what makes America great. Until then, my hat is off to President Bush for what he accomplished as Commander-in-Chief. He all but won the war in Iraq before he left office, he dealt terrorism a terrible blow all around the world, and he took care of those who serve. On January 20th, he can step away with the knowledge that the military is better off than it was, and the bad guys are on the run.
President Bush is the Broadside Person of the Year for 2008.