After nearly two years out, I can imagine George W. Bush writing his successor the following letter:
Dear President Obama:
As you know I’ve been peddling my book Decision Points and while doing interviews, people ask me what I think of the job you’re doing. My answer is the same: He deserves to make decisions without criticism from me. It’s a tough enough job as it is.
But their inquiries did prompt me to write you to privately express my continual admiration for the job you are doing. Amazing! I say “privately” because making my sentiments public would not do either of us any good, if you know what I mean.
First, I can scarcely believe my good fortune as to how your foreign and military policies—“continuity” was the word used recently by my good friend, Joe Lieberman—has protected my legacy. More than protected, you’ve proven yourself just as able—and I may say sometimes even more so—to “kick ass” as my Daddy used to say.
My pleasant surprise is darn near limitless. Your Justice Department has not pursued any actions against my people—not to mention Dick Cheney and I—that the civil liberties and human rights crowd keep baying for you to do.
Overseas, all I see are five stars. You are roaring in Afghanistan, dispatching our great special forces into Yemen, saying, like me, that you’ll go anywhere in the world to kill those terrorists. When you said you would assassinate American citizens abroad suspected of “terrorism”—that news came over the radio during breakfast when I was eating my shredded wheat and I almost choked with amazement. You got cajones, buddy. I was hesitant about crossing the border into Pakistan—but you, man, are blasting away. Even Dick, who would never say it publically, told me he is impressed.
The Leftists are always trying to have your policies show me up negatively. Hah—they’re having one hell of a tough time, aren’t they?
Me state secrets, you state secrets. Me executive privilege, you executive privilege. Me stop the release of torture videos, you backed me up. Me indefinite detention, you indefinite detention. Me extraordinary rendition; you extraordinary rendition. Me sending drones, you sending tons more, flying 24/7. Me just had to look the other way on collateral damage, you doing the same and protecting our boys doing it. Me approving night time assassination raids, you’re upping the ante especially since General Petraeus took over. Me beefing up Defense, you not skipping a beat. Me letting the CIA loose, you told them operate at large. Me demanding no pictures of our fallen troops, you doing the same, but allowing the families to go to Dover which I should have done.
There is one big difference. I never cracked a law book. You are a top Harvard lawyer and teacher of constitutional law. So when you do what I did, man, it’s—what’s the word—legitimization!
Domestically, sure you rag Wall Street, but you continued the big bail out of the bankers and their supporting cast. Sure, you’re tougher with your words, but they deserve it—remember I said that the Wall Streeters “got drunk” and “got a hangover”.
What I get such a kick out of is how you handled the unions and libs who backed you with dreams of Hope and Change. How smoothly you let them learn they got nowhere to go, just as we used to tell our conservative wing the same thing (though now they’ve been reborn as growling Tea Partiers). So, cardcheck, single payer, rolling back my Party’s passage of legislation in Congress—you made them forget it!
You have been such a great president—backing me on so many things—keeping most tax cuts and shelters, support for my oil and gas buddies (my base), big loan guarantees for nukes, keeping Uncle Sam from bargaining down pharma, expanding free trade, not going tough on China (my Daddy especially liked this one), avoiding class struggle rhetoric and so on.
You want to know how confident I am about you? Even though you called waterboarding “torture,” I proudly admitted approving its use to protect our country and its freedoms. Isn’t that really what the Presidency is all about, along with honoring our troops and the entire national defense efforts?
George W. Bush
P.S. My mother Barbara is a big fan. She calls your term so far Obamabush. Cute, aye, for someone who was never a wordsmith.
RALPH NADER is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel.