Bush years: Impressions of the man in office
Bush has faced many battles in his tenure. Record low approval ratings, a failing economy, the September 11 attacks, a war with no near end in sight, and for the last year, most of the world was looking more to his successor, than to the sitting President himself.
But when I look back over my three years here in Washington, I come away with two impressions of the man in the office.
One impression is that of a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, an insurmountable burden. As from my first image of Bush, making the long, slow walk back to the Oval Office, head and hands hanging low.
In November 2007, Bush met with Lance Cpl. Isaac Gallegos during a visit to the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He met with many of the soldiers, visibly scarred and injured from the war under his presidency. Although he seemed very confident in his actions, you could not help but feel that it was a hard eight years as the 43rd President.
The other impression is the playfulness of the man. Fun-loving silliness. The next two images come from the same day on a presidential trip to Africa in February 2008. It was probably the most fun I have seen the President have, and it gave me some of my favorite memories covering Bush. Joining a group of singing and dancing Massai Warriors during a stop at school in Arusha, Tanzania. He really seemed to be enjoying himself, surrounded by people who really were making every effort to make him feel loved and appreciated. He could have been anyone that day, just a guy wrapped up in the beautiful music, having a great time, and living in the moment.
The last photo came on a tour of a plant that manufactured mosquito netting. The girls were working underneath the mesh netting looking for holes and Bush surprised them by popping up underneath the netting to join them. The girls looked up to him in admiration and they appeared to sway in slow motion, like moving through water, calm, and for a brief moment he seemed happy and playful, like the kids themselves.
As his term comes to a close, one wonders what the future holds for him, and the affect he had on the world over the last eight years. After spending months with President-elect Barack Obama on the campaign trail last year, I think we are all anxiously awaiting for him to be sworn in, and to turn a new page. I expect the next four years will certainly be interesting.
In the end, I come away with a greater understanding of Bush and respect for the office he holds, and not sure why anyone would want that job. But someone always steps in, and will continue to face the troubles of the world and maybe find a time to laugh and be happy, just like the rest of us.