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ND?reflects on end of term

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Most eyes in the nation will be on President-elect Barack Obama as he is sworn into office at noon today, but there are many who are using the inauguration as a chance to reflect on the presidency of the man who will be former President George W. Bush by 1 p.m.

Junior Edward Yap, president of the Notre Dame College Republicans is doing just that.

“President Bush served his country with honor and integrity,” Yap said. “While his decisions were not always pleasing to all people, or myself, he made them with the best interest of the country at heart and with principle.”

Josh Kaplan, the associate director of undergraduate studies in political science, is also looking back on Bush’s presidency and said he saw potential in Bush that he didn’t fulfill.

“Bush had a positive and far-reaching vision for the future of the Republican party,” he said, “but was unable to move the party very far in that direction.”

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Bush was unsuccessful in his presidency, according to Christina Wolbrecht, an associate professor of political science at the University.

“Success and failure are political judgment calls,” she said. “It all depends on what you attribute to the President.”

Yap, however, thinks there are many things that can be considered a success in the past eight years.

“President Bush’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has poured $18 billion into Africa in an effort to increase the number of Africans on anti-retroviral drugs from just 50,000 [people] at the end of the Clinton presidency to 1.3 million as of 2007,” Yap said.

That doesn’t mean that Bush’s tenure was without fault, though, he said.

“I’m still torn as to whether the war [in Iraq] was justified according to my understanding of a just war,” he said.

Kaplan said he thinks Bush’s form of politics can still be beneficial after he’s gone.

“His vision of ‘compassionate conservatism’ was genuine and thoughtful,” he said. “The party could still learn from it.”

Wolbrecht said Bush’s tenure in office will most likely be associated with “a shift of the place of the United States in the world,” but it is still unclear what he will be remembered for.

“We don’t know yet what he’ll be remembered for,” said Wolbrecht. “Depends on what you focus on.”

Kaplan said he believes that the Iraqi War might have an impact on how Bush’s presidency is remembered.

“If Iraq becomes a more stable country in the near future, his decisions will be judged more favorably,” Kaplan said. “If not, history will judge him harshly for it, because he committed the United States to an open-ended involvement in Iraq with no end in sight.”