Mea culpa to Bush on Presidents Day
Plain Talk by Al Neuharth, USA TODAY founder
Our great country has had 43 presidents. Many very good. A few pretty bad. On Presidents Day next Monday, it's appropriate to commemorate them all.
A year ago I criticized Hillary Clinton for saying "this (Bush) administration will go down in history as one of the worst."
"She's wrong," I wrote. Then I rated these five presidents, in this order, as the worst: Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Ulysses Grant, Hoover and Richard Nixon. "It's very unlikely Bush can crack that list," I added.
I was wrong. This is my mea culpa. Not only has Bush cracked that list, but he is planted firmly at the top.
The Iraq war, of course, has become Bush's albatross. He and his buddies are great at coining words or slogans. "Bushisms" that will haunt him historically:
- "Shock and Awe," early 2003.
- "Mission Accomplished," May 1, 2003.
- "Stay the Course," June 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.
- "New Strategy," 2007.
Another term historians may weigh critically is "Decider."
Is he just a self-touted decider doing what he thinks right? Or is he an arrogant ruler who doesn't care or consider what the public or Congress believes best for the country?
Despite his play on words and slogans, Bush didn't learn the value or meaning of mea culpa (acknowledgement of an error) during his years at Yale.
Bush admitting his many mistakes on Iraq and ending that fiasco might make many of us forgive, even though we can never forget the terrible toll in lives and dollars.
Feedback: Other views on Bush presidency
"Just as we don't stop football games after three quarters, we shouldn't judge the historical place of presidents when they've still got nearly two years in office."
— John J. Miller, political reporter, National Review
"Unless there is some great reversal, Bush will be seen as one of the country's poorest presidents. Iraq will stand at the top of the list, but the administration's failed responses to Katrina and global warming will stand with its abuse of civil liberties to mark Bush out as a man with poor judgment and a failed leader."
— Robert Dallek, historian; his new book, Nixon and Kissinger: Powers in Power, will be published in April.
At least "w" is at the top of a list for something . . . .