Dear George Bush --
I sat eight years ago today in disgust and watched as you took the oath of office. I did not believe then (nor do I now) that you fairly (or even actually) won the election. Nevertheless, you took the oath and became President. Since then, I have never "warmed up" to you. I find you to be smug and flippant about your duties. Yet, I have two main areas that I believe should define your Presidency and should be your legacy.
First, the obvious -- Iraq. I agreed with your initial response to 9/11. The invasion of Afghanistan was the right thing to do. That said, I do not agree with the push to "spy" on Americans nor did I agree with the over-reaching "Patriot Act" (which I often referred to as the "Police-State Act"). Yet, you and your team then fabricated "evidence" to justify the invasion of a country that (even though a nuisance) posed no credible threat to the United States, our interests or our Allies. Since this invasion 4,229 US service people have lost their lives. Additionally, 30,634 US Service people have been injured (source). I am extremely proud to be the son, grandson, brother and brother-in-law of service people and am very proud of our service people. Yet, do not understand how you could justify sending these fine men and women into harms way based on fabricated evidence.
Additionally, you allowed the atrocities that were Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo to occur. Torture is not acceptable and I am very disappointed that you allowed these atrocities to occur. Coupled with the war in Iraq, they served to thoroughly destroy the reputation of the United States.
Second -- Stem Cell Research. In November 1997, I was diagnosed (potentially incorrectly) with Multiple Sclerosis. Fortunately, I was blessed that my symptoms have largely gone away and that I have been able to lead a very normal life. However, I do not understand how someone who claims to love the "sanctity of life" can in good conscious justify hindering the research necessary to preserve that sanctity for millions of people both here in the United States and abroad. Stem Cells hold the key to many debilitating and even deadly diseases, and the hindering of that research is nothing more than saying that you do not at all care about people like me.
In addition to those two key points, I have left out numerous other elements of the past eight years that will be your legacy. As example, I cite you and your team's response (or lack thereof) to Hurricane Katrina and that "Mission Accomplished" banner.
On election day this year as I listened to Sen. McCain's concession speech, I determined to have something nice to say to you at the end of this letter. I thought, surely in eight years, I have something that I can say about you that was nice. For the past twenty-four hours, I have been trying to think of something to say. I will admit that it has been an intense internal struggle to find something to say.
Mr. Bush, you have over the last eight years been the President of this great country. During those eight years, my faith in the United States and in you have been greatly diminished. I have no respect for you as a person and only call you President because the office you sit in requires it. Nevertheless, I promised myself to come up with something nice to say.
I admire your sense of duty and believe that you have a genuine desire to do the right thing. You have strong beliefs and are not afraid to stand behind them. While I don't agree with the beliefs, I do appreciate your courage and conviction.
May the future years bring you and Mrs. Bush happiness and peace.