By Dov Zakheim
Many years ago, my family huddled around our television watching Lyndon Johnson announce that he would not run again for president. My late father said he didn't believe Johnson; that's how much Johnson's "credibility gap", as it was then euphemistically called, had sunk into the psyche of average Americans. Whatever else one might say about George W. Bush, no one can assert that he is devious, or dissembling; no one can doubt that, from his first day in office to his farewell address, he has always meant, and believed in, what he has said.
In his brief address, the president made it clear that what concerns him the most is the nation's security. He is proud that there has not been another terrorist incident since 9/11; proud that he created the Department of Homeland Security; proud that he has transformed the military and the intelligence services. He truly believes that it is the mission of the United States to spread freedom to every nook and cranny around the globe, to transform societies everywhere. I did not do a "word count," but it seemed that the word "freedom" was repeated more often than any other. And he remains an internationalist in the broadest sense of that term, strongly advocating free trade and viewing isolationism and protectionism as two sides of the same coin.
The President devoted few words to domestic issues, including the current economic crisis. His priorities were clear: his focus was on America's role in the world.
The President has often said that history will be the ultimate judge of his record. Indeed, many historians have already rushed to render a negative judgment of that record. But there can be little doubt that George W. Bush remains as comfortable in his own skin as ever he has been, and that he truly believes that, in the cosmic battle between good and evil, he has stood firmly, squarely, and consistently, on the side of what is "good."