Dear Mr. President

Karl Rove promises he’ll deliver farewell letters to President Bush on Tuesday. Here’s mine.

Dear Mr. President,

You came into office under a cloud of suspicion and with ambitions that, as many Americans quickly realized, far outstripped your talents and frankly, your interest in the job. It’s a shame that we didn’t figure that out during the campaign; after eight disastrous years under your leadership, we look ahead to grim times both here at home and around the globe.

We look down Main Street and see businesses closing, worry about our families and loved ones losing their jobs, and mourn those who gave their lives in service to our nation. We wonder why we’re taking on Wall Street’s debt while our own continues to grow. We watch as our medical bills skyrocket while our wages drop. And we look around the world and see distrust in the eyes of both friend and foe.

But I believe you’re right – history will vindicate you, though not with the completeness I think you expect. Your presidency and the actions that defined it will be seen as massive failures, but two key things stand out; one I think you intended, the other you probably didn’t.

First, you brought to the fore some events and conflicts that I believe were inevitable, in both domestic policy and foreign affairs. You managed these events and conflicts in the most disinterested, unskilled, and disastrous manner as we’ve ever seen in a President. Historians won’t let you off the hook for that, but it won’t be revisionist history to say that you hastened conflicts that may well have been inevitable. Decades from now, we won’t see wisdom in your management, but if every cloud has a silver lining, perhaps you saw the big picture early.

More importantly, you helped America find its voice, though you didn’t like what you heard. Only when you had mobilized your culture warriors did it become apparent to the majority of Americans that your politics and beliefs don’t match our own. You and your supporters begged us to obey our lesser demons, but instead we reached collectively for our better angels.

Your divisiveness set the stage for a true uniter to lead this great nation; maybe more than any other factor, you helped Barack Obama become our 44th President. Your administration set the stage and created a ripe political climate for what might be one of the greatest and most transformative presidencies in our history. It is one of few bright spots in a sea of darkness.

And for that, thank you Mr. President. Best of luck in your ex-presidential life.

All the best,

J. Gregory Palmer

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