Last take: wrapping up presidency, becoming like a ‘normal’citizen

With a final wave, former President George W. Bush left the White House and returned to Texas.

While his eight years in office were filled with controversial decisions, one thing is sure: He gave his all and did what he felt was best for the nation.

In his final speech to the country from Washington, he said, “I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right.”

After Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony, Bush flew to Midland, Texas, and then to a reception in Waco where he addressed a large crowd on the cold night, thanking them for their support, wishing Obama the best and sharing his relief to be only a U.S. citizen.

Courtesy photo

Bush had several odd moments. Many included humorous sayings or words, such as “misunderestimate,” “hispanically” and “subliminable.”

In a traditionally “Southern” way, his jargon entertained many while others scoffed or made his colloquial expressions a source of entertainment.

His time in office was quickly disrupted by many issues, forcing him to make several decisions that will remain in the history books.

In his final speech, Bush said, “Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.”

In his first term as president, the U.S. was hit with the largest attack on U.S. soil in our country’s history. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 led to the president’s decision to finish the fight.

Photo by J. David Rowely, The Bells archives

The war in Iraq has been the main topic of many heated conversations, but Bush stood by his decision and tried to make it as effective as possible.

Bush said during his final speech, “As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11. But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our nation. And I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe.”

Unfortunately, the economy slumped along with his ratings. Even Bush’s final days were met with the final waves of controversy. The president-elect handled the situation carefully.

President Barack Obama said, “I thank President Bush for his service to our nation … as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.”

Many supported him, or at least respected his position, but several in the crowd jeered and sang “Na-na-na-nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye” as Bush’s helicopter flew over the crowded mall in Washington, D.C.

“While many might think this rude, it is nothing out of the ordinary in the events of history,” said history and political science associate professor David Chrisman. “People are nervous, scared, mad and paranoid about the economy, corporate greed and governmental irresponsibility. Rightly or wrongly, the electorate blames sitting presidents for our problems.”

He said Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush had similar exits.

“It’s interesting that two-term presidents always leave office much more unpopular than they were during their first term. This would include some of our more significant presidents like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan.”

However he left the office, Bush was met with welcoming arms in Texas.

Fox News recorded him telling the Midland crowd, “It is good to be home.”

That night he flew to Waco and spent the night in Crawford before going to Dallas to see his new home.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your president,” Bush said. “There have been good days and tough days. But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of our country and uplifted by the goodness of our people. I have been blessed to represent this nation we love. And I will always be honored to carry a title that means more to me than any other: citizen of the United States of America.”

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