Yes, through the last 8 years I have criticized our President--for not getting rid of Rumsfeld soon enough and making what I considered other mistakes in timing. Perhaps I've let my first impression of him in 1996 at the Midwest Leadership Conference in Indianapolis color my attitude toward him in other inconsequential ways. (I thought he gave a lousy speech.)
However, in the last couple of days I see a need for sticking up for the guy. Case in point: Jay Leno has made some of his gazillions of dollars at the President's expense. His monologues consistently poke fun in a very mean-spirited way at our President. We certainly can bet the farm that he will not make any such comments critical of Obama. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that his 10:00 time slot will be an excuse to become more "neutral."
What makes Bush great? We've always known about his humility and if we thought about it, everything about him points to his self-confidence. He is what defines a Republican: doing the right thing whether or not anyone is looking and doing it because it truly is the right thing to do.
Here's where Jay Leno comes in. Most of the comedians stock in trade these days starts with the President's stupidity. But he and Karl Rove have had a friendly rivalry going on for about 3 years. Rove mentioned wanting to read a book a week and Bush, apparently in his usual friendly but competitive fashion, figured they could "go for it." And since it's Rove's idea, he's game. The first year the score was 110 for Rove and 95 for Bush. 58 of Bush's were non-fiction, mostly on history and bigraphy with 8 on mostly Mideast current events and 6 on sports. In 2007 they slowed a bit with Rove leading again at 76-51. And this year the score is now 64 to 40. Most of the reading is pretty heavy going. I'll give Leno the benefit of the doubt, but I'll bet a lot of his reading is about cars. At any rate, this President is not stupid. He can make a joke about shoes thrown at him and makes no comment about the comedians, but it takes a big man to smile through it all.
Other evidence? (In the interests of honesty I need to tell you it would have cost over $1700 to quote an article from the WSJ entitled "The President Comforts a Marine Mom." I can't afford it so I'll just tell you about it.)
The Mom in question is Mrs. McPhillips whose son was killed in Iraq. They met in the Oval Office a few years ago and have exchanged letters, many written in the president's hand since. "Through the sadness that binds them together, they look eye to eye and let their hearts do the talking." and "....the brave young lieutenant who was born to one and laid down his life under the command of the other." They spent 45 minutes a couple of days ago talking about everything from Iraq, what he hoped to accomplish in the Middle East and their conversation was punctuated with words on the challenges and consolations of faith.
Lt. McPhillips sister and father were also present and when they left the President wrote a note to the sister's kindergarten class asking them to excuse her for missing class that day. They spoke further about faith and prayer and how to live a Christian life. He described men like the Lieutenant as the kind of man any parent would want to lead their son into battle or wait at the altar when a father walked his daughter down the aisle.
One more quote: "This Christmas, Mr. Bush's last as commander in chief, Mrs. McPhillips would like him to know how grateful they are that Brian served a president who was determined, at great cost to his own popularity, to ensure that their son's sacrifice would not be in vain."
"Mr. President, Brian was proud to be a Marine. And he carried within him the same light that you do--a faith in God, in America, and in the dignity and worth of every man, woman, and child on this earth. A blessed Christmas for you and your family, Mr. President."
And I hope, also, to all of you.