Don't look back

Former presidents are, for the most part, like yesterday's newspaper. They quickly drift into obscurity and become old news.

Yet there are millions of Americans who respected George W. Bush and admire some of his accomplishments — not the least of which was keeping this nation free from attack since 9-11.

When Bill Clinton left office eight years ago, there was considerable speculation the personal issues surrounding his presidency would overwhelm his legacy. History has been kind to the former president and with each passing year, he is remembered more for what he accomplished than the dalliances that colored his tenure in office.

While there have been no such assaults on the moral fiber of George W. Bush, the ex-president is leaving office under an enormous cloud, one that has been crafted by controversial policies and one that has been crafted by critics who are relentless in their pursuit of his head.

Still, it is quite likely George W. Bush will benefit from the passage of time, as difficult as that is to believe in the wave of the vitriolic assaults on his presidency and his person. We admire the grace, dignity and deference shown to the outgoing president by his successor even as the most ardent Obama supporters found themselves incapable of refraining from still further demeaning epithets at a time when there was no conceivable need to do so.

Universal support for Barack Obama is more likely to occur once those who are basking in the afterglow of the presidential victory start focusing more on what the new president is doing and less on their relentless character assassination of George Bush.

Right now, the Obama administration is striking decisively to change direction and establish a new agenda. Something similar happened to George W., who upon taking office in 2001 tried to erase Bill Clinton's policies from the map only to gradually adopt his approach in his second term.

A week into the new administration it would make no sense to expect immediate troop withdrawals, world peace or an economic miracle.

Soon enough, the Obama administration will find itself being judged on the basis of performance, not hope.

In the meantime, in considering a change in leadership, whether it be in the nation's highest office or, anywhere else at any level, we are best served to honor those who have passed before us with dignity and respect.

When we fall into the trap of diminishing our predecessors, we diminish ourselves in the process.

The best advice is simply "don't look back unless you intend to go there."

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