Past presidents tend to lie low for a while after leaving the White House, so I don’t attach any special significance to the dearth of news about George W. Bush. But I’m guessing that we won’t hear from him for quite some time, and when we do, he won’t be taking questions.
His legacy seems worse every day. The Wall Street Journal reports that in the last year of his presidency, the wealth of every American family was reduced by an average of 18%, a figure that, if anything, seems low. Think of it. It’s as though, after all those years of his striving to reduce our taxes, nearly one fifth of every household’s total assets, not just its current income, was confiscated.
The Iraq War has been called by its critics the greatest foreign policy blunder in American history. It’s worse than Viet Nam because we actually have some vital interests at stake in the Middle East. Bush thumped his chest about the success of the surge, but I’m not convinced. I was a soldier in Viet Nam in the lull following the 1968 Tet offensive. Lots of people back then were saying the war had been won, given the low level of enemy activity. But we enlisted men, along with every Lambo driver, hootch mamasan, and Saigon Tea girl, knew that the NVA was merely lying low, since it was clear that the American will to fight was broken and we were just looking for a propitious moment to leave. They were right; we lost. So it may be in Iraq, where the enemy is in it for the long term while we just want to get the hell out.
We’ve heard that Bush thinks history will vindicate him. He may be right, if anyone is left to write it.