Lately, I've been seeing quite a few "01/20/09" bumper stickers on cars lately, signalling the last day George W. Bush will be President. I'm sure to the people who put those stickers on their cars, it's a way to celebrate his leaving the White House and what they perceive as the start of a new era where the next President (or the one they hope will be the next President) will "fix Bush's mistakes."
One problem. When Bush leaves office, he doesn't stop impacting the country.
A President's impact is often felt while he is President, but there are still ripples that cascade out from his last day in the office. Take Ronald Reagan, for example. His efforts to bring the former Soviet Union to their knees didn't come to full fruition until George H. W. Bush was President, but the impact was unmistakable. Had it not been for Reagan's actions, the fall of the Berlin Wall after he left office wouldn't have happened.
Bush has made some mistakes without question, and those will have to be dealt with by the next President and beyond. Likewise, some of the things Bush did right will either be continued or discarded, which will also impact the future. And if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton win and they're dead set on "fixing Bush's mistakes," they're letting Bush impact the future.
And while we're on the subject, I think it's the height of folly to "fix" the "problems" the previous President left because it's never-ending and an exercise in politics that simply doesn't accomplish anything except paying back political influence. Let's say Obama wins and he decides the best way to address the foreclosure "crisis" is to eliminate tax breaks for the upper class and give the middle and lower classes rebates and tax breaks. Sure, this gives the middle and lower class extra money they didn't have, but will it make them spend it wisely?
One need only look at how the some of the poor in New Orleans spent their $500 gifts from the government after Katrina to know the answer to that question.
It's these types of "solutions" that put us in deeper trouble because they're not intended to address the problems. Instead, they're intended to make a stump speech point or some platform position fit into the problem, no matter how tortured the connection. And, really, should we expect the next President to be able to fix all of the problems, real or imagined, that Bush will leave? There's no way he (or she) can! So, instead of being intent on "fixing Bush's mistakes," allow me to humbly suggest that they figure out what problems we face, what the government can and should do to fix it, and keep the government out of as much as possible. We're not children. We CAN figure this stuff out for ourselves.
When George W. Bush leaves office on January 20, 2009, we will feel the impact of his Presidency for years to come. Only the overly delusional or woefully uninformed think otherwise. Even so, that impact can be lessened by recognizing what we can and should do for ourselves and then...now this is radical thinking...do it!