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Thank You, Mr. President

Thank You, Mr. President

By Mark Davis - January 14, 2009

The running joke when I got my invitation to the White House Christmas party was that the administration knew my views on the war and tax cuts but maybe not on immigration and bailouts. In reality, the festive crowd contained more than a few outright liberal media voices, from the always likable Juan Williams of Fox News to the perpetually antagonistic Helen Thomas.

Chalk it up to the general graciousness this president has maintained toward reporters and commentators who have often kicked him in the teeth in return.

The press corps did it to his father and to Ronald Reagan before him. But those were days of Elizabethan manners compared to the venom reserved for George W. Bush.

Whether in the media or the general public, the aptly titled Bush Derangement Syndrome may stem from his enemies' inability to stomach his 2000 win, decided, as the rules require, not by the popular vote won by Al Gore or by their wish to steal a state Gore did not win, but by the facts and the law.

But it is more likely the war that enrages them, as it has toppled their comfortable notions of innocuous, persuadable terrorists and the high-mindedness of pacifism.

I wanted to make sure any moments I had with the president and first lady that night contained one thing. With my wife standing with me and our two kids secure at home in Texas, I wanted above all else to thank him for keeping my family and my country safe.

From Guantanamo to warrantless wiretaps to secret prisons to the sparse examples of waterboarding, his assertions of presidential power have yielded seven years of no attacks on our soil, a detail lost on the crowd that views Halliburton as a greater evil than Saddam Hussein.

For them, just as it was never enough to simply disagree with the Bush agenda, his departure is not limited to relief or even celebration. It is an occasion to suggest, as the reliably hateful Bob Herbert has for years from his New York Times pulpit, that President Bush has intentionally sent our sons and daughters into harm's way, corrupted the Constitution and mistreated those poor souls at Guantanamo, all with malevolent intent.

I would guess that most of those grieving families do not share Herbert's profane belief that their loved ones died in vain. If there is a shred of decency left in these unhinged critics now that they can watch the president they loathe slip into private life, let them restrain themselves from wrapping their hatred of the war in a camouflage of feigned concern for those who have fought it.

I do not presume unanimous war support among bereaved families. But most will be proud, forever, of their sons and daughters, and their mission, and the commander in chief who gave them orders to liberate millions so that democracy can have a chance to calm the terror-infested landscape of the Middle East.

Those soldiers have succeeded in that visionary task, and so has this president. He also succeeded in honoring the Constitution with two Supreme Court justices who actually pay attention to it, reducing tensions with North Korea through the diplomacy his critics say he never practices and stopping Al Gore once again, this time by balancing global warming hysteria with rational skepticism.

As our brief chat came to a close, the new couple moving soon onto Daria Place in North Dallas wished us a Merry Christmas. The president then added: "Tell 'em we're coming home...with our heads held high."

As well they should be.

Mark Davis hosts a radio talk show in Dallas-Fort Worth and is a free-lance columnist for The Dallas Morning News.

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