George W. Bush and Laura Bush
A Different World
Two years ago, President George W. Bush was still a relatively unknown quantity on the national scene. He seemed most defined by what he was not. He was not outsized, blindingly eloquent, possessed of powerful charisma. He had lost the popular vote, and his controversial election had to be settled in court. Even his supporters conceded that he was untested, and as for his foes, they had him pegged as a little man in a big job.
And then came September 11th, 2001.
America was brutally attacked, and even in the first shock it was clear a huge and historic challenge had been forced on the new President.
The American people wondered: Was he up to it? Could he meet it? Was he big enough, tough enough, and would he make us want to follow him?
It is commonly said that President George Bush found his voice amid the rubble, but he also found the purpose of his presidency and of his leadership. He knows now why he is in the White House: to make America safer, to defeat terrorism and gut Al Qaeda, to topple aggressive dictatorships, to win a war.
In the process of laboring to do those things, President Bush did something else. His palpable faith in our country, and his insistence that it could do any good thing it set its mind to, helped ignite a new wave of patriotism. It has become chic to love America again. This President tapped directly into the primal patriotic urge that rose like smoke from September 11th. He reminded us through his leadership that our principles are worth fighting for, and dying for. He rescued the idea of righteous anger as a diplomatic tool, and reminded the world that peace must sometimes be secured with force.
The drama of our recent history has sped up the process by which we have gotten to know our President. September 11th seems to have worn away George Bush's reserve, his early tentativeness and awkwardness. He has let the real Bush come out.