Right to the Point2/19/09

Dear President George W. Bush

Feb. 19, 2009

By Mike Benevento

Thank you for all the hard work you did these past eight years for the American people.

Because of your decisive and determined actions following Sept. 11, as The Wall Street Journal observed, “Not a single man, woman or child has been killed by terrorists on U.S. soil since the morning of September 11.” For that, I’m extremely thankful.

Right after taking office, you proposed the No Child Left Behind Act. This bipartisan law improves schools by increasing standards. As Barron’s Editorial Page Editor Thomas Donlan noted, “Mandating testing in public schools forced some states to identify and study their schools’ failures.”

Early on, you reinstituted the Mexico City Policy, which banned U.S. funding for international family-planning groups involved with abortion. Later in your presidency, you kept your pro-life promise by signing the partial birth abortion ban — a bill President Bill Clinton refused to sign.

Alas, just three days after you left office, America’s world standing took a hit when President Barack Obama rescinded the Mexico City Policy — effectively putting American taxpayers in the business of funding abortions throughout the world.

During your term, you pushed three tax-cut bills through Congress. You promoted Social Security reform and championed judicial appointees who support strict interpretations of the Constitution. Additionally, Congress expanded coverage for senior citizens by passing into law your Medicare prescription drug program.

Your unyielding resolve following the unprovoked Sept. 11, 2001 attacks defined your presidency. Immediately afterwards, you took action to prevent further terrorist strikes in the United States.

You reversed course from President Clinton regarding the use of military force to protect America. Realizing our criminal justice system inadequately deters terrorists, you kept America safer by rightfully treating them and those who attack Americans on the battlefield as enemy combatants.

You announced an aggressive global war on terror and invaded Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to stop harboring al Qaeda. You advocated the Patriot Act, which the Senate passed with a 98-1 vote weeks later. In your 2002 State of the Union Address, you defined North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an Axis of Evil that sponsors terrorism and seeks weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, your Bush Doctrine laid out America’s foreign policy principles. They include defending the United States against terrorism and regimes that aid terrorists. The doctrine promotes spreading democracy and calls for preemptive and unilateral engagement if necessary when our country is in imminent danger.

Lest you think I have only good things to say about your presidency, rest assured I did not agree with many of your decisions.

Despite the economic and national security threat to our nation, Congress and your administration did little to stem the flow of illegal aliens across our borders. In fact, your laissez-faire approach to border security and calls for amnesty actually encouraged more illegal — rather than legal — immigration into America.

A major mistake was presiding over massive increases in government spending. Instead of trimming domestic programs in a time of war, Congress continued to spend — often with your blessing. While you watched, the size of the federal government expanded, adding $4 trillion to the national debt.

Republicans like you are supposed to stand for fiscally conservative values. Americans do not support Republicans who abandon their principles. The Republican Party rightfully paid dearly in last November’s polls.

(You will be glad to know that the January election of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele as chairman of the Republican National Committee is a big step in the right direction.)

Let’s face it; you are bashed more than any president in modern history. “1-20-09” stickers are still seen on many bumpers. Bush haters abound. Whether deserved or not, you were blamed for almost all of America’s ills, from the seemingly slow Hurricane Katrina response to fixing the price of oil relatively high so Halliburton and your oil buddies could make a financial killing. Heck, many kooks still believe Sept. 11 was an inside job orchestrated by you and Vice President Dick Cheney.

If future travel takes you to Vermont, Calvin, Matthew, Kristine and I extend you and your family an open invitation for dinner at our home. As a former co-owner of the Texas Rangers, you know there is no better place than at the ballpark to catch up with friends — and Vermont has one of the best. After dinner, we’ll take you to Centennial Field to watch the Lake Monsters play. We can chat about baseball, politics and family. It will be our way of saying thanks. Heck, I’ll even spring for some Champ Chips — the new fried pickle concession specialty.

Michael Benevento is a former Air Force fighter jet weapon systems officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in Military History and a master’s in International Relations. Mike resides in Williston with his wife Kristine and their two sons, Matthew and Calvin.