Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thanks for the legacy

It was interesting, in a bizarre sort of way, to hear U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice try to put a good face on the outgoing Bush administration on Sunday morning television. Rice, who took over as Secretary of State just after the start of U.S. President George W. Bush's second term, told CBS-TV that history will be kind to the 43rd president, despite what his critics have been saying. "We can sit here and talk about the long record, but what I would say to you is that this president has faced tougher circumstances than perhaps at any time since the end of World War II, and he has delivered policies that are going to stand the test of time," Rice said in an interview that aired on the CBS show "Sunday Morning," according to Cable News Network (CNN). Rice was national security adviser in Bush's first time. Rice said people who think that the Bush administration will go down as one of the worst in history "aren't very good historians." The Rice interview apparently was part of the outgoing administration's farewell tour, with Bush and other officials giving positive assessments of the past eight years in the face of low approval ratings at home and a negative image abroad. "If you're making historical judgments before an administration is already out -- even out of office, and if you're trying to make historical judgments when the nature of the Middle East is still to be determined, and when one cannot yet judge the effects of decisions that this president has taken on what the Middle East will become -- I mean, for goodness' sakes, good historians are still writing books about George Washington. Good historians are certainly still writing books about Harry Truman." Rice also said the Bush administration succeeded on many international fronts, including the Middle East, China, India and Latin America. "When one looks at what we've been able to do in terms of changing the conversation in the Middle East about democracy and values, this administration will be judged well, and I'll wait for history's judgment and not today's headlines," she said. It is true that the Bush administration united the country in a measured response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, but then seemed to veer off course in attacking Iraq and reinterpreting the U.S. Constitution. Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks, apparently is still at large on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan border despite a war that has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and killed thousands of U.S. soldiers and tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Aghanis. The Bush government is scheduled to leave power on Jan. 20, when Barak Obama takes the oath of office as the 44th U.S. president. So, it's not quite over yet.

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