December 15, 2005

Remembering President Bush

from - RSA

Imagine that you heard someone asked about how they hoped to be remembered in the future, and here was the response:

I hope that first, as a person, I'll be remembered as a fellow who had his priorities straight: his faith, his family and his friends are a central part of his life.

Lovely. How could you complain about that? (Taking "faith" in its loosest meaning.)

Secondly, I hope to be remembered, from a personal perspective, as a fellow who had lived life to the fullest and gave it his all.

Again, you look up to people who seize the day, who devote themselves to doing their best.

And thirdly, I'd like to be remembered as the president who used American influence for the good of the world: bastioning freedom and fighting disease and poverty, by recognizing to whom much is given, much is required and that -- that I wasn't afraid to make a decision."

And now you realize that you're listening to the President of the United States, a man whose priorities are no different from everyone else in the world who is not the President of the United States. Not a good thing. Consider: how many people will ever get to know President Bush well enough to judge how he treats his family and friends, or to remember him as someone who lived life to the fullest? A handful? Twenty? Fifty? Let's be generous and say 350, about a millionth of the people currently living in the U.S. Our views come in third, along with the rest of the world, behind the good opinion of Bush's friends and family.

But let's take Bush at his word. How's he doing? Not well.

Infoplease lists numbers for people living below the poverty level in the U.S. going back to 1997. Here's a snippet of the number of people living in poverty and their percentage of the U.S. population.

2001 32,907,000 11.7%
2002 34,570,000 12.1%
2003 35,861,000 12.5%
2004 36,997,000 12.7%

That's an unfortunate trend. But remember that Bush mentioned "bastioning" freedom first. How about that? Freedom House has a variety of measures of political freedom on the world scene, but here's a very concise summary in terms of the number of countries in the world:

1999 2004
Free 85 88
Partly Free 60 55
Not Free 47 49

Oh, unfortunate world. Things are not looking up. But as long as Bush is remembered as having given it his all, he's happy.

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Posted by RSA at December 15, 2005 09:20 PM
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