George W. Bush has said that he will be judged kindly by history. On foreign policy, protection of our Constitution, health care, poverty, and so many other issues, that won't be the case. But I do believe that the Republican party elders of 2050 will look back on Bush and Karl Rove's outreach to the Latino community as visionary. Here is an excerpt of Bush's last press conference, which was held this morning:
THE PRESIDENT: You see, I am concerned that, in the wake of the defeat, that the temptation will be to look inward and to say, well, here's a litmus test you must adhere to.
This party will come back. But the party's message has got to be that different points of view are included in the party. And -- take, for example, the immigration debate. That's obviously a highly contentious issue. And the problem with the outcome of the initial round of the debate was that some people said, well, Republicans don't like immigrants. Now, that may be fair or unfair, but that's what -- that's the image that came out.
And, you know, if the image is we don't like immigrants, then there's probably somebody else out there saying, well, if they don't like the immigrants, they probably don't like me, as well. And so my point was, is that our party has got to be compassionate and broad-minded.
Bush clearly wants "compassionate conservatism" to be his outgoing message, just as it was the cornerstone of his 2000 campaign. His final policy speech, delivered last Thursday in Philadelphia, focused on No Child Left Behind. Bush's execution on these issues never matched his rhetoric, in part because he didn't want to spend money and in part because he zapped his political capital on an unpopular war. But if the GOP ever becomes more like the U.K.'s Conservative Party, Bush's leadership on immigration and education will be remembered as harbingers of change.