Contributors Weigh In

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Bill O'Reilly, Host, "The O'Reilly Factor"

He had the best interest of the folks at heart. President Bush is a patriot. He tried to do his best. I'm glad he gave a speech tonight. We wish President Bush the best. He's a patriot, a good man and I hope he continues to contribute to the country.

S.E. Cupp, Conservative Columnist/Author, "Why You're Wrong About the Right"

Eight years ago President Bush entered the White House under a maelstrom of Democratic hazing -- screams from the left that he stole the election, and an out-going administration that reportedly vandalized and looted the White House like a college fraternity forced out of its house for underage drinking.

And yet he leaves with class, dignity, generosity of spirit and optimism for the future. As he recounted the measures he's helped bring to fruition during his two terms, restated his belief in good and evil, and recounted stories of sacrifice, he said he is thankful, and filled with gratitude. He's followed his conscious, and recognizes he made mistakes. All future leaders, President-elect Barack Obama included, should take a page from President Bush's book. What a pleasure (and lately, a rarity) to hear a politician speak so optimistically and favorably about America. Tonight, more than ever, I'm convinced history will remember him kindly.

Eric Bolling, Co-Host, "Happy Hour" FOX Business Network/Host, "The Strategy Room"

It was a short and sweet, very humble and classy speech. Like him or not, he has always done what he felt was best for us all. I think George W. Bush will go down as a president who had high hopes for many things, some accomplished, some not. But in the end kept us safe.

Henry Graff, Presidential Historian/Professor emeritus, Columbia University

Only a few presidents have delivered a farewell address. George Washington's warned against making foreign alliances. General Eisenhower's was also a warning--against the military-industrial complex he saw staining the republic. President Bush offered no warning. His speech was a salute to himself as well as to the free society he worships and which he had made the central theme also in his Second Inaugural four years ago. He mentioned that he had has bad days as well as good ones in his two terms but he made no mention of how the public turned against him even for the great accomplishment he claims of seeing to it that no terrorist attack has struck the land since 9/11. His gracious words respecting the forthcoming arrival of President-elect Barack Obama may be unique in the history of farewell addresses. He was cheered to the echo by the body of presidential staff and invited guests that filled the Green Room where he spoke as he declared his affection for his time in the White House and implied the glory that the great mansion is as a symbol of a free people. The speech may not be long remembered but it is Bush's last major public utterance as president.

Judith Miller, Writer/FOX News Contributor

It was a short ending to what has been a long goodbye. In 12 minutes, President George Bush thanked those who had helped him prevent another 9/11, which he claimed as his greatest achievement. By Bush standards, it was an emotional "Farewell Address" -- as well delivered as any speech he has ever given. He had done everything in his power, he told us, "to keep us safe."

That he has. There has not been another Sept. 11thterror attack. Terrorists have not struck the nation with a weapon of mass destruction. That is something. As he leaves office, he urged us to "resist complacency" and "never let down our guard." Terrorists are still plotting, he warned us. There is evil in the world. "Stay strong," as soldiers say.

But many Americans wanted and expected more of him tonight. They were surely disappointed , if they watched him at all.

He spoke of "setbacks," not of "mistakes." There was no hint in his address that he leaves a nation deeply divided over his policies and over him. Perhaps history will be kinder to him than his critics tonight on the TV talk shows who have increasingly shaped public opinion. But only 27 percent say they now approve of the job he has done. Did that affect him? There was no indication that it has in his demeanor tonight. He remains optimistic, he told us, about the nation he has been "blessed" to lead. George Bush has none of the doubt and anxiety about the future he has left us that so many of his fellow Americans share.

Laura Ingraham, Radio Talk Show Host/FOX News Contributor

This man is a patriot. He's a good man and he wanted the best for the country. He needed to have this conversation that he's been having with Larry King and Brit Hume these past few weeks much sooner. -- But he wanted to stay above the fray.

The key thing here is that not only did we stay safe but they stayed on the offensive against terror. They will get credit for that but it will take a long time.

Cal Thomas, Syndicated Columnist/FOX News Contributor

The theme song of President Bush's farewell address tonight might have been Frank Sinatra's "My Way." Regrets? He's had a few; but then again, too few to mention. George W. Bush came to office in 2001 intent on being one kind of president -- strong on education and conciliation with Democrats and proposing "compassionate conservatism." Many conservatives believed that was not only redundant, but in a way, apologetic. Less than eight months later, on September 11, he was transformed into another kind of president.

Was he naive about the way Washington works? In some ways, yes. Did he not understand that the post-9/11 good will he had from Democrats was partly patriotic, but mostly pragmatic. Apparently not.

Democrats read the polls and their primary objective is power. As Bush's approval numbers started to slip, Democrats ratcheted up their opposition and Bush, a non-ideological president, was unable to counter their bile with his own sense of goodness.

Part of the problem with the Bush presidency was not him, but us. We don't like inconvenience, war, or a bad economy. And when we were touched by each of these, we blamed the president for not restoring us quickly to our pursuit of pleasure and material things. Most television shows do not last as long as the Bush presidency and that's the other part of the problem. We project more on our presidents than they are able to give. Yet they don't want to tell us that only we can make our lives better, because that would mean we would need them less and they want the power, or the sense of it, which are not the same.

His critics would surely blame him had we been attacked a second time since 9/11, but they will not give him credit for keeping us safe. That seems unfair, if not hypocritical.

George W. Bush is a good and decent man. He said he would have made different decisions in some cases had he known then what he knows now. Who wouldn't? He leaves office with the lowest approval rating of any modern president. But, like other presidents, I strongly suspect historians, and maybe even some of his contemporaries, will think more highly of him in years to come. Some of that will depend on the unpredictable things that will happen in the administration of Barack Obama, who comes to the White House with one agenda and if history teaches us anything, will probably end his term, or terms, with a completely different one.

Jane Hall, FOX News Analyst/Panelist, "FOX News Watch" This was a valedictory in search of a more positive legacy. There was little mention of the economy , Katrina or other domestic crises that have led to President Bush's leaving office with approval ratings at 27 percent. Instead, President Bush focused on what he clearly believes is his greatest achievement: making the "tough decisions" that he believes have helped keep America safe from another terrorist attack.

"As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11," Bush said, speaking personally before an audience of 200 friends, administration officials and several Americans he cited as heroes. "But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our Nation. And I vowed to do everything in my power to keep it safe."

Few would doubt his sincerity--and the impact of 9/11. But history will decide whether the war in Iraq and this administration's prosecution of the War on Terror were the right policies and the right war after 9/11--and whether the world today is a safer place.

Dan Gainor, Business Media Institute, Media Research Center

George Bush ends his career as the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents -- getting no respect even to the very last. As Bush finished his presidency with his last public address, the Associated Press took the latest media dig at the president: "Bush address includes laundry list of back patting."

The truth of the matter was far different. Although AP says the "text of the speech comes with a laundry list of what Bush says are successes," the truth is there were successes. Some of them great ones.

Argue all day about the causes or necessity of invading Iraq, but you will be hard-pressed to call it a failure. The same goes for Bush's post-9/11 record. As the 43rd president put it, there can be "little debate about the results."

Of course, there will be little media debate. Instead, the anti-Bush media (most of the mainstream press) won't even give him his due when it's well-deserved. Ironically, they spent every day since Sept. 11, 2001, protected by a president that they did everything they could to undermine.

Now the media turn to their candidate of choice. It will be interesting to watch how they gloss over every misstep and fawn over every speech of a man they have already likened to a cross between Abraham Lincoln and FDR.

Tommy De Seno, Attorney/Writer

Fare Well

Tonight President Bush said goodbye to his "time of consequence" in the White House, offering wishes of hope to his successor who practically guaranteed to deliver it.

A speech that started out sounding like the Thank You section in the front of a book quickly turned to the issue that will define his legacy -- how he turned the despair caused by the attacks of September 11 that killed nearly 3,000 Americans into a chance to free 50 million people from oppression in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Note this well: His response to an attempt to conquer us was not vengeance to conquer others, but a war to free others.

He addressed that first because that is the hope for his legacy. From the ultimate act of aggression came the ultimate act of kindness -- delivering freedom to the oppressed.

He ticked off his domestic policy measures quickly. He should have. He'll not be known 100 years from now for medicine or education or anything other than his foreign policy.

Mr. Obama must heed with absolute clarity President Bush's warnings that our biggest concern remains fending off attacks by our enemies. President Bush is, after all, the heavyweight champion of keeping us safe for 7 straight years.

The introduction of the men in attendance who are dedicating their lives to others -- an educator, a soldier, a doctor -- is a message from the president pleading with us to serve others before ourselves.

Offering yourself to the service of others is a throwback to the "Thousand Points of Lights" volunteerism of his father's presidency.

To the current President Bush, service to others is the construct he'd like us to use when examining his own legacy. Rescuing people in oppression and despair is the one chance for a great legacy he has.

Few men in history can lay claim to bringing freedom to 50 million human beings. This man can, if the freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq remains.

Farewell, Mr. President, and may your legacy as "The Liberator" be long lasting.