By Marlene Naanes
George W. Bush will leave office tomorrow with one of the lowest approval ratings of a United States president, and in New York City, land of liberals, it’s safe to say he’s even less popular.
Yet some New Yorkers are upset Bush’s tenure is coming to an end and feel his approval rating is a mere snapshot of public opinion at the end of eight years filled with some of the toughest challenges any president has faced.
“The verdict of history is much more meaningful than what the current approval ratings reflect,” said Richard Brownell, a member and former president of the New York Young Republican Club. “With that in mind, though, I keep reading how historians around the country are saying that Bush was the worst president ever when we haven't even had the requisite time to reflect on the man's policies and actions. Have they forgotten about James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Jimmy Carter?”
amNewYork caught up with New Yorkers who are sad to see the 43rd president go and asked them what they’ll miss most.Brownell, 36, of downtown Manhattan
“I will miss Bush's demeanor, his attitude, his folksy sense of humor,” he said. “He has a true approachability to him that you rarely see in politicians.”
Brownell will also miss Bush’s determined way of making decisions, that he did not agonize over each one, even the bad ones.
“You have to lead the country, not a debate team,” he said. “Bush knew that difference. His predecessor did not. I'm not sure his successor does, either.”
Matthew Hindin, 27, Murray Hill
Like many Bush supporters, Hindin credits Bush with keeping the country safe after 9/11. It’s the “No. 1 responsibility” of any president, he said.
“I remember the week or so after 9/11 every single American, if asked, was pretty sure there would be attacks again,” he said. “Through a lot of controversial but courageous decisions…. President Bush did what he had to, making courageous but difficult decisions to prevent an attack on American soil and to protect the lives of Americans here and abroad.”
Hindin, who admits he voted for Al Gore in 2000, said Bush’s straightforward honesty won him over.
“What I detected…is that maybe he doesn’t have the fanciest words…[but] I see a simple human honesty that comes through.”
David Laska, 21, of the East Village
Laska, a New York University junior and treasurer of the school’s College Republicans organization, is sad to see Bush go, but he’s more upset by the cloud of negativity that has hung over him.
“I don’t think he didn’t do such a bad job as people say,” Laska said. “I think his big legacy is that he was very successful in leading the country after Sept. 11. His approval rating was through the roof. He kept this country safe.”
While Laska supports Bush, he wouldn’t want him to serve a third term, even if it was possible.
“He’s lost any political capital to do anything,” he said. “In any event, the country was founded on the peaceful transition of power. “
Gail Allen, 30, Hell’s Kitchen
Allen, the secretary of the New York Young Republicans, will miss Bush’s tendency to “stick to his guns,” an attribute that made him unpopular with many others.
“When every step that you make is always judged upon…that pressure has to build on you,” she said. “He seems to me as the type of guy who never let that pressure get to him.”
Now that Bush will be gone and a republican will not be succeeding him, Allen said Republicans will do what Democrats have for the past eight years.
“We are the new opposition, so to speak,” she said. “Now we’re the ones to rise up and start raising our voices.”