Who would have thought, as we watched the events of Sept. 11, 2001 unfold, that more than seven years would pass without another terrorist attack on American soil?
The answer: No one. We all expected another attack within the week, and the entire country was on edge for months. Remember that? Remember the anthrax scares? How wary we were in airports, shopping malls, sports stadiums? I do.
Yet the months passed, and nothing happened. Months turned into years, and still, miraculously, nothing happened. Until eventually we forgot how we felt back then and began believing, once again, that we're all perfectly safe here in the US of A.
Meanwhile, the man largely responsible for that remarkable turnaround received virtually no credit.
I'll be the first to admit I haven't always agreed with George Bush's policies. I think he was wrong to sign McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" into law. I don't believe he dealt effectively with the problem of illegal immigration. And I've never been a fan of No Child Left Behind.
But the man got it right on national security, and that's what matters most. A president's first priority is to protect the American people. Not the economy. Not taxes or social security or health care or jobs or selecting a White House pooch. Those things are all secondary. National security has to come first, because if we're not safe to engage in democracy, everything else is moot.
And for nearly seven and a half long years, we've been safe. Safe, at least, from terrorism, if not from the whining of "civil libertarians" worried the government's keeping track of their library books. Here's a tip: Don't check out a book about building suitcase bombs and I think you'll be just fine.
Besides national security, President Bush got a lot of other things right, too. He was right not to sign the Kyoto Treaty, which would have gravely crippled the U.S. economy without doing much to slow global warming - even assuming global warming is caused by people, and not a natural, cyclical phenomenon as many scientists now believe.
And he got it right on taxes, lowering rates for virtually all taxpayers and stimulating the economy out of the Clinton recession. People today, reeling in these difficult economic times, have forgotten just how good it was for how long.
And finally, he was right to depose Saddam Hussain. No, we didn't find as many weapons of mass destruction as we expected, but that's really beside the point. Saddam was and would have remained a grave threat to world peace - thumbing his nose at the U.N., bullying his neighbors, sponsoring terrorists. Iraq and the rest of the world are well shut of him.
So thank you, Mr. President. May history be kinder to you than an unhinged mainstream media and an ungrateful public.
Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.