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George W. Bush Will Not Be President in 100 Hours

I didn’t watch President George W. Bush’s valedictory speech. As it happens, I was at my gym, using one of the elliptical machines with the personal TV screens. I flipped to MSNBC, not mindful of the time, and then all of a sudden Bush was on the screen, mashed up, thanks to my iPod, with a Screeching Weasel song. The women using the machines next to mine shot me brief but clearly disdainful expressions. I changed the channel.

So I didn’t see the speech. Read it if you feel so inclined. It’s hard to remember, but in 2000, Bush’s campaign plane was called Accountability One. Nearly nine years later, his speech is about why he shouldn’t be judged by his disastrous results, but instead by what was in his heart.

If there’s any real parting gift that George W. Bush has given conservatives, it’s that they can no longer use Jimmy Carter’s presidency as a laugh line. Carter never seriously argued that his presidency succeeded because only 3000 people died from terrorism on American soil while he was president. Indeed, the speech’s most inspiring stories are about people who persevered despite his policies:

We see America’s character in Dr. Tony Recasner, a principal who opened a new charter school from the ruins of Hurricane Katrina … We’ve seen it in Staff Sergeant Aubrey McDade, who charged into an ambush in Iraq and rescued three of his fellow Marines.

Maybe Dave will have more to say about the speech. Even without seeing it, I kind of like the verdict delivered by this TPM reader:

Watching this speech reminds me of when I listened to my high school principal speak for the first time after I graduated. He still sounded crazy but no longer scared me.

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