Bush’s Final Speech Just Another Disappointment

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This is what Alan Schwartz had to wear when he was inducted. Photo: Getty Images

With mere days before he hops on his mountain bike and rides off into the sunset, President Bush took to the airwaves last night to deliver his farewell address to a barely attentive nation. How does one sum up the exhilarating last eight years? So much has happened — much of it, let's be honest, fairly terrible. But Bush contended that even in those times when things didn't work out, he was acting "with the best interests of our country in mind." He focused much of the speech on the war against terrorism and the continued threat it poses. Ending on a gracious note, Bush said he was honored to have served as president and was "inspired by the greatness of our country and uplifted by the goodness of our people." The response to his speech, however, wasn't quite as gracious, especially since many conservative writers chose not to comment on it at all.

• Michael Crowley calls the speech "pretty weak tea." Bush didn't express regret, but his body language made him look "sheepish, contrite, and appealing for mercy." [Plank/New Republic]

• James Poulos thought Bush looked "drawn" and "winsome," and offered "no surprises...nothing we haven’t seen one million times before." [Confabulum/Culture 11]

• Karen Tumulty was struck by Bush's "spectacular euphemisms for the state in which the country finds itself at the end of his eight years in office," such as referring to the economic crisis as "challenges to our prosperity." [Swampland/Time]

• Tom Shales says only Bush's "remaining ardent supporters" wouldn't agree that the speech had an "aura of delusion and denial." However, it'll "probably prove among his most popular — if only because it was his last." [WP]

• Steve Benen thought watching the speech "was both painful and dull, which usually don't accompany one another." Bush "set the bar as low as it can go" by essentially arguing that he "didn't deliberately fail." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• David Corn found the speech "flat and short. Bush said little of interest." [CQ Politics]

• David Von Drehle believes Bush "knows he has lost the short-term argument" and aimed the speech "at the long run." By pointing out that America had gone seven years without a terrorist attack, Bush was "[m]aking his closing argument for the history books." [Time]

• Eve Fairbanks felt that the language of the speech was fine, but the "disconnect between his ideals and what he did" was "the bad part." You can kind of feel sorry for him, realizing that he "failed within his own rubric." [Plank/New Republic]

• John Nichols sarcastically exclaims, "Wow, it turns out that George Bush was a really great president." [State of Change/Nation]

• Alex Koppelman says the "delivery was awkward; he spoke as if he didn't really feel the words he was speaking, as if he wasn't making a serious connection with them." [War Room/Salon]

• Tom Schaller notices that Bush "uses counterfactuals and hypotheticals when they suit him, and not when they don't." No terrorist attacks since 9/11? Good. Terrible economy? Well, it "would have been worse if not for the actions his administration took." [American Prospect]