George W. Bush is winding down the final three weeks of an eventful pair of terms as the President of the United States.
For the past seven of those years, the President has been under as heavy a burden as any American leader before him. That burden of trying to protect and defend America following the attacks of 9/11 has defined his Presidency.
There have been many of his predecessors who have had to guide the nation in a time of war. Some notables include Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman during World War II, and Ronald Reagan in the 'Cold War'.
Lincoln, Truman, and Reagan each had the faith, the strength, the moral courage, and the personal timing to bring these struggles to a successful close for the nation.
Roosevelt, alas, did not live to see the fruits of his difficult labor, but his vision and courage, his willingness to stand up to the evils of Nazism and totalitarianism were vital to our American future, indeed the entire free world's future. Much the same can be said of President George W. Bush these past seven years.
As we all know, on September 11th, 2001, just over eight months into his first term, the United States suffered a major attack on our continental soil by the foreign power of Islamism. The forces of Islamofascist terror had been at war with America and the western world for at least a decade to that point.
They declared it against us, and they had previously taken action with attacks against our interests both abroad (Kenya, Tanzania, Lebanon) and here at home (the first WTC attack.) Still, while we knew they meant us harm, few understood the imminent danger in their ability to actually reach out and destroy serious targets on America's shores.
That reality was slapped home on 9/11 when a pair of airliners flew into the Twin Towers and resulted in their destruction, and another flew into the Pentagon doing serious damage to our main national defense headquarters.
A third airliner had been thwarted from doing even further damage thanks to the bravery of the passengers, who had learned of the earlier attacks. In the end, approximately 3,000 Americans and foreigners lost their lives as a result of the attacks.
The Bush administration plans for the future, both in domestic policy and foreign affairs, was forever altered by the events of that September morning. The fact of the matter is that the primary responsibility of the President of the United States, of our national government in fact, is to preserve, protect, and defend the union.
In his seven years in office following those attacks, the President has taken us on the offensive against the Islamofascists, and has thus averted any further attacks on us by an enemy sworn to inflict even further damage.
In the aftermath of the attacks he established what has become known as the 'Bush Doctrine', which is basically the combination of ideas stating that there is no 'moral relativism'. We are good, they are evil, and that is a fact beyond dispute.
Further that the United States will go on the offensive in wiping out these terror organizations, and will also deal with nations who support them in an aggressive manner. And in doing so we will not only be reactive, doing something only after we are attacked, but will also be preemptive in hitting those who clearly state their intention to harm us.
The President responded to 9/11 by sending our troops into Afghanistan to wipe out the Taliban regime that was both terrorizing its fellow Afghanis, and which also was harboring the terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda, who had attacked us on 9/11.
He followed that up by sending them into Iraq to rout Sadaam Hussein and his dangerous and murderous Baathist government, and to help Iraqis install a democratic government that would serve as both a launching pad and a beacon of hope for the entire region. All the while, our troops military actions in the Middle East would attract the attention of the Islamists, diverting them from America's own shores.
Despite the ups and down of every major military struggle in history, the strategy has worked remarkably well. The seeds of freedom have been planted in a region of the world where they had not existed for centuries, and where it appeared just a few years ago that they would never take root.
Perhaps most importantly, the President has clearly done his job of protecting the United States, as we have not been successfully attacked on his watch again since 9/11. From Afghanistan to Iraq, from Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, the President and his team have been proven out to be consistently correct in their efforts to keep us safe.
As President Bush leaves office, he can also hang his hat on a pair of tremendous achievements on the domestic front: keeping taxes low and appointing constitutional SCOTUS judges.
The current financial meltdown is a problem largely outside of the President's scope to control, the mistakes that led to it largely having begun in the Clinton administration. But keeping taxes low has allowed the crisis from being even worse.
In his appointments of both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, the President has hit a pair of judicial homeruns that will benefit our nation long after he leaves office next month.
It is true that he needed direction in the Alito appointment after initially wanting his friend, Harriet Myers, for the position. But he showed great leadership in his willingness to listen and in his ability to admit when he was wrong, and he ultimately made the correct decision and nomination.
There were outstanding candidates this past year aside from the President, most notably the Republican VP nominee and Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who was the runner-up.
It is very difficult to justify someone like President-elect Barack Obama, whose only real action this year was in running for an office. Perhaps one of these individuals will be honored here in the future based on their actions, rather than for a political campaign. But in this past year, no one in the country had a more difficult job than President Bush, and he came through with flying colors.
Despite an intensely negative media portrayal and the utter disrespect of the Democrats over almost the entirety of his terms in office that resulted in his low approval ratings, the President has kept his head high and his country safe.
The day that he leaves office next month, the nation will likely begin to become a far less safe place, and that will likely only deteriorate over the ensuing months and years. In the long term, it says here that Bush will be viewed in a positive light, and will be proven even more right in his principled positions.
For his leadership in continuing to fight for the nation's safety and security despite the ravenous attacks of his political enemies, for the continuing example of his public faith in God, and for keeping America safe, this website is proud to honor President George W. Bush as the 5th annual 'American of the Year', following in the footsteps of previous honorees Pat Tillman (2004), Bill O'Reilly (2005), Rev. Billy Graham (2006), and P/O Chuck Cassidy (2007).
To view those previous honorees, please click on the below 'Label' of "American of the Year"