I don’t think that anyone would accuse me of being soft on George W. Bush. For example, I have argued that Bush should be indicted for violating the U.S. War Crimes Act. However, the man is not all bad. I believe that his lack of racism played a significant role in paving the way for the electoral victory of Barack Obama.
As recently as eight years ago, before the George W. Bush administration, I think it would have been impossible for a black person to be elected president of the United States. Among independents and moderate Democrats and Republicans, there were too many white citizens who simply could not accept the concept of a black family occupying the White House. But then Bush chose Colin Powell to be his secretary of state. For his second term, Bush replaced Powell with Condoleezza Rice. Over a period of almost eight years, borderline racists got used to African-Americans operating at the highest level of government, and they got used to judging Powell and Rice as individuals, without thinking about their race.
Thanks to George Bush, when this critical electoral constituency of borderline racists was confronted with a black presidential candidate, they were already comfortable with the idea of black leaders, and they were willing to judge Barack Obama on his merits rather than his race.
So let’s give credit where credit is due. George W. Bush, for all of his faults, taught a lot of white Americans to respect African-American leaders. It could turn out that Bush’s most positive historical legacy will be his contributions to racial tolerance.
P.S. I still think George Bush should be indicted for violating the U.S. War Crimes Act.