Commentary: Bush's policies hurt our nation

This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

George W. Bush made a graceful exit from Washington Tuesday after eight years that have been anything but graceful for this nation. As the helicopter carried his family from the Capitol, it signaled a literal end to an administration in which an unprecedented number of Americans have lost confidence.

Bush was not directly responsible for the defining event of his presidency, a savage attack against this country on its own soil. He is not entirely to blame, either, for the financial meltdown that has snatched jobs, savings and economic security.

Yet he will have to answer to history for choosing, in fearful and exceptional times, the vanguards of swagger, secrecy and disrespect for both the Constitution and human rights. He committed himself to preventing another 9-11, but made us more like our enemies with the tactics he used. Regardless of other accomplishments, Bush's legacy will be defined by his administration's policies that have been hurtful to this nation, here and abroad.

Four examples stand out.

The Bush administration embraced locked-tight secrecy at a time when Americans needed open reassurance its government was acting in their best interest. The Bush White House chose to squelch dissent and debate in times that demanded those American values be practiced.

The Bush administration advocated for laws that eroded Americans' constitutional liberties instead of scrupulously protecting them when they came under fire.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.