Dear President Bush

10/29/2007 04:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It occurs to me, at times, especially those of national stress (in other words, more and more frequently), that your ultimate goal as president, perhaps to some extent not fully intended yet by no means unplanned either, is actually to divide the country irreparably, to "stick it" to your critics, pursuing your various agenda items, both domestic and international, unabated and without compromise in the least.

Playing to your narrow base to the very end of your tenure may indeed seem to be a good way to enshrine your self-image as an unbending "leader," but it comes at a price, and with great risk for your long-term legacy. Realize that much of the country currently despises your policies, and probably will for the foreseeable future.

You squandered the national good will that seemed to galvanize in the aftermath of the horrible events of 9/11/2001. You then divided us into loyal Bushies versus Bush haters; into rich cronies versus poor losers; into freedom-loving chickenhawks versus cut-and-running Islamofascist sympathizers; into red versus blue; into tax-cutters versus tax-lovers; into the faithful versus the faithless; into straight versus gay; into Climate Change deniers versus Chicken Little doomsayers; into pro-life versus pro-abortion; into anti-terrorist versus pro-terrorist; and so on and on.

Has any previous U.S. president insisted so adamantly, with such ferocity and apparent relish, with such relentless and skillful manipulation, upon such domestic invidiousness? Let me submit that you've been presiding, simultaneously, over two undeclared civil wars that you primarily fostered, one abroad and the other at home.

Might you consider, in your remaining months in office, not about starting another deadly war and unleashing new destructive campaigns but about providing a few expansive Lincoln-esque healing gestures? A "wartime president" ought to be trying to bring the nation together rather than sniping forever at his critics.

It would require that you change your ways first and foremost, and then maybe others will follow your example. If you truly are, as you think you are at heart, a uniter not a divider, then you cannot simply demand unity on your terms and blame subsequent division on those who fail to bend to your decrees.

Why not try it -- something big, bold, enduring -- that would actually please, uplift, and surprise liberals? It could be a daring measure that irritates your base for a while but ultimately brings, or aspires to bring, the nation together to some symbolic extent. Think outside your box.

Leadership doesn't necessarily mean staying put in your ideological "comfort zone," as you stubbornly seem to think it does in your "I'm-Reagan-in-Berlin" fantasy moments. Nixon opened China. Your father, reading more than just his own lips, saw the critical need for taxes. Your father did what he thought was best for the country's long term fiscal health even though he alienated the hard line anti-tax faction, those think-tank zealots who want to dismantle all democratic government.

As of now, your father will be remembered as a decent-enough president, and you will be remembered as an abject failure. Oh, when one of us pesky bloggers makes such a point, you and your enablers circle the wagons and dig in and redouble your efforts -- that's your reactive instinct -- and then look for all-too-clever ways to stick it back to the opposition, attacking the messenger, going for the kill, turning defense into offense, playing hardball. It seems to work for a while.

Enjoy those petty Pyrrhic victories of yours. But you're eventually going down, down hard, and it seems as if you are trying to make the entire world into your personal Titanic.

Captain, you need to change course. In the spirit of your favorite philosopher, you -- your presidency -- needs redemption, some miraculous way of genuinely transcending politics-as-usual.

If you are the believer that you say you are, have you thought about begging for forgiveness? I know, that would be SO out of character. Maybe, however, just maybe, it's what the country, if not the entire world, needs right now from you as president, a sincere expression of humility and a heartfelt attempt to mend deep wounds, a gift from nowhere. Are you big enough to rise to the occasion? Or will it be bombs, rhetorical and otherwise, from here on out?


John Seery
Huffpo Blogger