In the days leading up to Jan. 20, the mainstream media published a flurry of short-term analysis pieces proclaiming President George W. Bush the worst commander-in-chief in history. I thought it would be fun to turn the tables on my friends and answer a question made famous by Stephen Colbert: Is George W. Bush a great president, or the greatest president?
Whether in the Oval Office, aboard Air Force One or at the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch, I saw a man that embodied his Secret Service code name, Trailblazer. He tackled the biggest issues of the day, without regard for how it would shape popularity polls. He was a man not burdened by his position, but an ordinary man, with an extraordinary job, focused on doing what was best for our country.
These analysis pieces balance every ounce of the president's accomplishments with a pound of selective reporting chosen to fit their predetermined narrative. While I enjoy fiction, most of the pieces are worthy of staged readings at the Laugh Factory.
Allow me to disabuse you of the popular fairytale that the entire world hates us. In nearly each one of the 23 countries on five continents that I visited with our nation's 43rd president, we were greeted by cheering crowds. Of course, you only saw this when inaccurate rumors swirled that a local had nabbed the president's wristwatch in Albania.
President Bush kept us safe, brought accountability to our schools, prescription drugs to seniors and helped liberate 50 million people from tyranny. Our relations with China, India, South Korea and Japan have never been stronger.
Congress approved and dispersed the largest aid package to combat a single disease in history with the president's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. We have free trade agreements with 14 countries, compared to three when President Bush took office, and he cut the number of nuclear weapons in half five years ahead of schedule.
At home, the president presided over 52 months of uninterrupted job growth -- the longest sustained growth in our Nation's history. What about those "rich Americans," the ones that liberals claim got the biggest breaks from the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts? They actually pay a greater share of the income tax burden today than they did when President Bush took office. Take that!
This is in no way a comprehensive list of President Bush's accomplishments, but it definitely paints a different picture than the one perpetuated by media outlets intent on convincing you that he was a failure.
So, how would I respond to Colbert? All kidding aside, George W. Bush was surely a great president. If you do not believe me now, we should talk in a few years.
Pete Seat, a Schererville native, is former deputy assistant press secretary to President George W. Bush. His column will appear in this spot every other Thursday.