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Our First President, George W. Bush

Joshua Sharp

Posted: Jan 13th 2009 2:28AM

Filed under: Politics, USC, News

College seniors around the nation have just a few months left before transitioning into the "real world" at a pivotal moment in American history. While 2009 sees us entering a struggling job market and an uncertain future, we students and others in our generation (the so-called "millenials") are also bidding farewell to our first president, George W. Bush.

Sure, most of us started teething during the Reagan-Bush years, and learned the various definitions of "sexual relations" from Bill and Monica, but I don't really remember following national politics closely until the 2000 election -- and what an election it was.

For many millenials, the Bush presidency has framed our adolescent lives. I was just starting high school when the Sept. 11 attacks happened. Our first observations of mass protest came in the run-up to the Iraq War (and, to a lesser extent, the recount battle of 2000). We are the first generation to grow up watching global warming become an issue with implications for our adult lives; same with trillion-dollar deficits and a broken National Debt Clock.

As evidenced by the exit polling from the last election, our generation is at the forefront of defining the new platforms of both parties, and the ways candidates communicate with us. Race relations, from Hurricane Katrina to the election of Barack Obama, have continued to play a fundamental role in the national dialogue and in some ways have defined a generational divide between younger and more experienced Americans.

Many of these issues have also defined the Bush presidency. At the very least, Bush's leadership -- and yes, I'll call it leadership -- has given us a first-hand barometer by which to judge future presidencies. President-elect Obama will be judged by what deficits (or surpluses!) he produces, whether America suffers another domestic terrorist attack following the reversal of key Bush Administration policies, and even by the type of rhetoric Obama provides compared to Bush's cowboy drawl.

The contrast was on full display in President Bush's final news conference yesterday, in which he gave a compellingly candid appraisal of his eight years in office and aggressively defended the most difficult decisions of his presidency. For my generation, this has been all we've ever known (beyond a few History Channel episodes about Lincoln and Roosevelt, of course):

Part 1 (h/t RCP; read the transcript here)

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

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