But I never questioned President Bush's patriotism. I always believed strongly he did what he did because he thought it was right for the country.
This past week saw the conclusion of one of the largest and most sophisticated manhunts in the history of the world. It used intelligence across three different administrations, though mostly from the past two. While the United States' locating Osama Bin Laden within Pakistan should not be seen in any way as vindication of the harsh intelligence practices preferred by the Bush administration (indeed there are reports that most of the investigation relied on non-harsh practices), there is no doubt what happened a week ago is a victory for Presidents Bush and Obama.
To be sure, I agree it's more a victory for President Obama than Bush. Afterall, it was President Obama that called the strike. It was President Obama who was in the situation room watching the events unfold. It was President Obama who took responsibility should the circumstances have turned out that Bin Laden wasn't actually there.
But President Bush has right to feel a sense of victory as well. And on that point I identify the two classiest acts of the past few weeks. First, was when President Obama phoned President Bush to tell the predecessor that the military had gotten Osama. The second was when President Bush declined the invitation to visit Ground Zero this past week.
President Bush has been noticeably silent in the aftermath of the raid. It reminds me of the day President Obama took office. There was a moment just before now-citizen Bush hopped on the marine helicopter. He gave President Obama a pat on the back and said good luck. To me, it looked incredibly genuine. Despite their differences, both Bush and Obama wanted what was best for the country.
As much as I applaud President Obama, I applaud President Bush. For being a patriot. As for former Vice President Dick Cheney, well that's another matter.