Henrietta Hay Column January 16, 2009

President Bush gave us laughs but not much else

Next Tuesday will be the real New Year’s Day in the United States.

Reason 1.  Former-President Bush will head west to his ranch in Texas.

Reason 2.  President Obama will start putting the country together again.

Reason 3.  1 and 2 will give us a New Year.  But there are more.

When President Obama walks into the Oval Office on Jan. 20 and looks at the pile of “to dos” on his desk, he may be tempted to walk out again. Fortunately, he won’t.

The press is methodically telling us in great detail all the problems we face, not that we didn’t know them already. And a lot of the people I talk to are telling me that President Obama can’t solve them.

Well, let’s wait and see. Even my most rabid Republican friends admit, with sad voices, that he has to be better than his predecessor.

Let’s face it.  We’re in a major economic mess (among other messes) and we are all trying to blame somebody or something.

Geoff Colvin, writing in Fortune Magazine, discusses the “blame game.”  First, the free market ran amok. Second, Greenspan did it. And then Bill Clinton spawned the sub-prime mortgage epidemic. Finally, Americans lost their self-discipline.

Colvin says that all four contributed to the problem, but suggests that our loss of self-discipline is probably the major cause.

But there is another one. Vice-President Dick Cheney says: “There was never any question about who was in charge. It was George Bush.”

So whoever wins the “blame game,” George Bush and his administration have to know that “the buck stops here.”

So now we have an economic crisis that’s the most serious since the Great Depression of the 1930s, a war that we should never have gotten into, a broken health care system, a crumbling infrastructure — and a president with a 29 percent approval rating by the public.

That is lower than Nixon’s.

In its waning days, the Bush administration is trying to cover up eight years and establish a bright and shining legacy for George W. Bush. I fear there is not enough polish in the world to achieve that.

A big part of Bush’s legacy will forever include his famous Bushisms. Here are some of my favorites.

• I had a hunch that language trouble might be ahead when Bush started talking about the “nucular” problem. My hunch was oh so right. A few days after his election, he said defensively, “They misunderestimated me.”

•  Late in his term he summed it up. In an interview with Bob Costas at the 2008 Olympics, he said “First of all, I don’t see America having problems.”

•  “I have opinions of my own, strong ones, but I don’t always agree with them.”

•  “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”

•  “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

•  “Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.”

•  “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.”

So long, George.  I can’t say we enjoyed knowing you, but you did give us a lot of laughs. 

Henrietta can be reached by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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