History Not Polls to Judge Bush
History Not Polls to Judge Bush
John L. Perry
Bush is knowingly said to be lower in the popularity polls than any previous president. (Not surprisingly, little is said of the even-lower poll numbers for the Congress controlled by the opposite party.)
But who truly knows? Of course, the polls say so. Polls of how many of America's 300 millions? Those surveyed range from a few hundred persons to a few more than a thousand.
Who selects that relative handful? (Did you ever know anyone personally who was polled?) Who writes the questions? Who asks the questions? In what tone of voice? At what times of day? Who funds the entire costly enterprise, and for what purpose?
Assume the polls are, as the British say, spot-on. What has that to do with whether what a president or a Congress does is the right thing to do for this country in the long haul of history?
If you don't know anything much about history, especially of your own nation, how can you pass a valid judgment about this current president, let alone about any president's proper place in history?
At various points in their public careers George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, and Ronald Reagan were abused most vilely in the public prints.
Years later, all are re-discovered as men of greatness — just as other presidents gained little, or sunk lower, in public regard as history unfolded.
Is Paris Hilton admired today? At one time in her trivial life she was wildly popular. Are the now-popular Bill Clinton and his wife the same people they were in the depths of their scandal-ridden co-presidency just a few years ago?
It is foolhardy to write off a public figure because of contemporary low repute, just as it is risky to proclaim others as guaranteed future historical giants.
Right and Wrong, Good and Evil
Reality in America is not a Hollywood-concocted, TV-shriveled, masscomm-manipulated, make-believe world, even though that mirage appears authentic to millions of clueless Americans. History is still what is real.
There really are such things as right and wrong, good and evil. They change very little in history's balance scale.
This can be said reliably of George W. Bush: He has not pandered to popularly perceived precepts of conventional wisdom. More and more, it is becoming clear that he is, with dogged courage, listening to the dictates of his own mind and heart. In the final analysis, is that not his overriding attribute that persuaded American voters to elect him?
Put bluntly, he is one of the rare presidents who genuinely believes the right thing to do is the right thing to do. And he persists in doing that, whatever the cost.
Any conscientious reader and serious student of American history knows this rare quality is the one indispensable ingredient in history's stern requirement for greatness.
Seldom is that a prescription for popularity, but neither is popularity essential to historical greatness.
For George W. Bush, this should not matter either way, so long as he can go to bed each night in the calm assurance he did his best that day to do what he believes is right.
Also ending each day of honest labor and quiet faith are Americans, by the millions, who recognize and appreciate that very quality in a president — and who never have been polled about it, and never will be.
They are there, just the same.