Skip to comments.W's Postscript: How Will History Regard Bush?
Posted on 11/06/2008 12:50:28 PM PST by meandog
It's tempting right now to say President Bush will go down as one of the worst presidents ever to dis-grace the White House. But is that fair, or even accurate?
Historian renderings of a legacy are often at odds with fluctuating public opinion polls that gauge the heat of the moment. Take Truman. The man had a 22 percent approval rating toward the end of his presidency--due in large part to a highly unpopular Korean War--yet he's among the most popular presidents in history.
I'm going to play the devil's advocate and argue that it is at least in the realm of possibility that history will not lambaste Bush as the fool he's so widely assumed to be. I'll do this because it's useful, because W's reign is nearly at end, and because it might be kinda fun.
Look at what he walked into: 9/11. A presidency in its infancy presided over the most devastating foreign attack on domestic soil in this country's history and suddenly became a war-time presidency. In the wake of the attacks, Bush enjoyed a 90 percent approval rating. An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed 62 percent of Americans cheerleading the invasion into Iraq. The Senate and the House both approved resolutions for the invasion with wide margins.
It proved a costly blunder. But besides the fact that occupations are costly and often doomed to failure, we have learned that the American people rode a wave of emotion into Baghdad, but had neither the tolerance nor the fortitude for the prolonged conflict it would require.
If nothing else, Bush has shown massive cajones in pushing through a hugely unpopular surge that's proven incredibly successful. Whether by blind luck or through the vigilance of the Homeland Security Administration and reorganized intelligence services, we haven't seen another terrorist attack even as they continue to erupt across the globe. In that regard, it's not a huge stretch to say he's not unlike Truman, who developed the NSA, CIA and Department of Defense.
So that's my devil's advocation. Will Bush remain the punchline in history-book perpetuity, or will our collective derision soften as hindsight brings into clearer focus the narrative of his dual-term presidency?
Pierce won a rapid rise in politics because of his father, NH Gov. Benjamin Pierce.
As president, Pierce mainly tried to appease Southern Democrats as a "uniter, not a divider."
Pierce's good looks and inoffensive personality caused him to make many friends, but as president he subsequently made decisions which were widely criticized and divisive in their effects, thus giving him the reputation as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.
After his presidency, Pierce continued his lifelong struggle with alcoholism as his marriage to Jane Means Appleton Pierce fell apart. His reputation was destroyed during the American Civil War when he declared support for the Confederacy, and personal correspondence between Pierce and Confederate President Jefferson Davis was leaked to the press. He died in 1869 from cirrhosis.
Historians reflected the views of many historians when they wrote in The American President that Pierce was "a good man who didn't understand his own shortcomings.
He was genuinely religious, loved his wife and reshaped himself so that he could adapt to her ways and show her true affection. He was one of the most popular men in New Hampshire, polite and thoughtful, easy and good at the political game, charming and fine and handsome. However, he has been criticized as timid and unable to cope with a changing America." Pierce has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the worst U.S. Presidents.
Bush's failure is that he could not finish the war that he started because he relied on a limited warfare strategy in both Afghanistan and Iraq due to his promise of keeping the tax cuts--there is a tried and true economic principle that you can have guns or butter but you cannot have both. IMO, his legacy will depend on the success of Iraq and Afghanistan. If Iraq becomes another Bahrain, amid a successful and thriving democracy and economy with tourist pouring in to sample the history of Babylon, then Bush's legacy will be restored. However, if Obama's pulling the rug out from under the fledgling country means that it sinks into anarchy with warlords ruling the various providences, Bush goes down with Pierce which is my belief.
As a pro-ILLEGAL alien RINO who destroyed the GOP and beget us Obama.
I think after 4 years of Obama we will look back on the Bush years fondly.
I think the Historians will show him in a favorable light. IMO
W will look good after Hussein Obama.
If the middle east has a couple of democracies in 10 years, GWB will be lauded as a great man. If the middle east is a mess in 10 years, he will be ignored.
Liberal Bla-Bla-Bla. Goodbye GWB and please stay away from cameras for at least two years. I believed in you on Iraq and you betrayed my trust. You expanded the fed gov beyond belief. You gave the country to Obama/Pelosi along with un presidented power and created a new desire for less freedom for security (wont last) But now we have a group of dems that will find out how that feels to be let down, big time. Good bye, I wont miss you. Go!
IMHO, he operated far more like the CEO of a large corporation than like the head of a country.
I think history will see GWB as a president who “Got It” when it comes to understanding radical islam and fighting the war on terror. That will be all.
In History? In history we will be all dead! Heh heh heh heh he...
That’s more than enough considering what Al Gore or Kerry might have done
Pretty well until he went treasonous with the “emergency bailout” October surprise. I know I need to forgive, but I am having a hard time with this one.
You really are sick you know ...you need proffessional help,
maybe you should take up drinking if you havent already
What could have been...
The bailout was not a good thing but I believe that in 50 yrs it will be just a footnote.
Personally, I don’t feel it’s any coincidence that four years of Bush, Sr., was followed by Clinton, and four years of Bush, Jr., has been followed by a Republican disaster and an impending Obama administration.
Rats demand public humiliation and personal destruction of GOP opponents, and too many pubbies are happy to oblige.
D.L. Moody once said, If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me. You have done the former, now leave the rest up to your God - He vindicates His own in His time.
I think that it can be said based on his 8 years that he was not a conservative.
Rove gave us the monkier “compassionate conservatism”. I didn’t see the conservative part of the equation in the Bush administration.
Compassionate Conservative punching bag.
He made some difficult and courageous decisions after 911, but ultimately he let his enemies define who he is.
A brief history of Bush’s time.
As for Bush, he learned his lesson the hard way. To be rejected by your own party can't be easy (remember Gore not allowing Clinton out on the campaign trail?)
I still get a lump in my throat when I read Bush's first inaugural speech. He changed.
i got a feeling we will miss bush
One can say roughly the same thing on school choice, where we will eventually (I believe) end up with parental choice, and market solutions to the health care funding dilemma, where Bush again defined the correct solution but didn't have the votes in Congress to get over the hump. Bush will be remembered with respect as having helped mainstream constructive reform, though ahead of his time.
We will eventually win the war on terror, but it now looks like some thousands more Americans -- and we'll be lucky if the toll is only in the four digits -- will have to die before the left sobers up. Bush will be lauded by the postwar historians, and todays crop of leftists will be viewed with contempt.
Bush has performed personally with decency, grace, integrity, and humility. The BDS democrats will be seen by historians as, again, contemptible.
Bush let Congress run away with spending and will be fairly criticized for that. He will also be open to justifiable criticism on immigration, but I very much doubt that our Spanish speaking successors will care very much about that, as we will be majority hispanic before 2075. Any English speaking holdouts will be like the Gaelic remnants in Britain today.
I think I agree with your assessment.
I add only that Bush has done an amazing amount of damage to the GOP. I won’t go into what I think his many policy failings were or the positions he took that alienated conservatives.
But the worst of his failings were his pathetic communication skills. His incoherence and frequent lack of any attempt to communicate at all gave his legions of enemies a huge opening to define him and his policies and all Republicans as incompetent and/or malignant fools. I believe Bush bears a great deal of the blame for the election debacles in 2006 and 2008.
Stuff it yourself, idiot! Your hero led us down the path of destruction and caused the biggest one-party take over since FDR and the aftermath of the Civil War. NFL and college football coaches face bigger scrutiny for lack of success than you Bush loyalists give a president when palpable failure is right before you!
Agreed. To begin with, Bush was very effective in getting major elements of his agenda passed: tax cuts, judges, and Patriot Act in particular.
But the defining moment of his presidency was 9/11, at which point Bush faced a "Neville Chamberlain" choice. Mr. Chamberlain chose wrong; Bush chose correctly.
History will recognize that. Nothing else comes close. It will be even more obvious when Obama boots away what Bush won in the Middle East.
9-11 happened and Bush has said in every speech that "9-11 changed everything". He was not a nation-builder and in debates with Gore had criticized the Clinton administration of overstepping in its foreign policy. However, he became a "democracy-builder" and without hesitation or conflict believes that establishment of solid, capitalist democracies in the Middle East is the path to peace in that region. Over 130,000,000 votes have been caste in free elections by people in Afghanistan and Iraq and places that democracy has not long been the tradition (e.g., Ukraine). If you can hold onto democracy, voting is habit forming and this is a sea change in the way those countries have governed themselves. If for nothing else, and for our security for the past seven years, he should be praised.
In spite of being portrayed as a boob, his speeches have been worth reading and keeping and, unlike many Presidents, he does actively participate in the speech-writing process. When not spun or spliced, his delivery has been Churchillian and many, such as the one to Congress in September 2001 after 9-11 show a world vision that is inspirational.
One of the minor miracles that happened prior to 9-11 was the lowering of tax rates that allowed our economy to heal in spite of the most devastating attack ever on American soil. This was no small feat and supports the importance of keeping the Bush tax rates, especially because we do not know what is around the corner, financially or militarily.
Rather than being scorned he should be lauded for getting money to Africa for AIDS. Nobody else is doing it and he has committed nearly the entire amount of funding they need to fight AIDS. AIDS could literally wipe out Africa, which is I guess what everyone wants to happen. Between AIDS relief and nets to protect children from malaria, Bush has been a savior to those people.
Is he perfect? No, and he would be the first to admit it. He's a former alcoholic who has been brought to God through humility. But he knows who he is and right from wrong and polls are just distractions from doing the right thing when you have the chance. He's not Clinton, looking for glory in his legacy. He's not a Jimmy Carter trying to make trouble everytime he opens his mouth. Unlike the Clinton's, he and his wife are welcoming and gracious to the incoming President.He knows, and trusts, that when it's all over, the only acceptance that's needed is God's welcoming you to Heaven.
History will treat President George W Bush kindly, and deserves our thanks and our Respect.
He did not hand the Presidency to the Obamanation: a disorganized Conservative movement did. Disorganized Conservatives that couldn’t field a credible candidate until Sarah Palin came along, and couldn’t give adequate support to the candidate that they did field, John McCain — who, given decent support throughout, should have won easily.
Most brothels are better organized than that. Sorry, but that’s the sad truth.
The challenge is now to rebuild and to make sure that the Obamanation doesn’t get away with one dam’n thing. And above all, don’t let them tarnish GWB’s legacy, because in four years’ time that is all that many people will remember about Conservatism in America.
Just my $0.02
I like Bush. I didn’t agree with him on immigration, but I think he’s a genuine, honest, and caring man. Unlike Obama.
> Liberal Bla-Bla-Bla. Goodbye GWB and please stay away from cameras for at least two years...
In four years time, all that many people will remember about Conservatism will be GWB. While your sentiments may be heart-felt, I fail to see how it is helpful to undermine GWB and his legacy at this time: that is precisely like doing the Liberals’ work for them.
Time to take a deep breath — and any meds that you might need — and focus on the task ahead, which is to rebuild a rather badly-damaged Conservative movement. And, if and as necessary, to defend the inevitable assaults on GWB’s legacy that will surely come — from Liberals.
Please don’t do their dirty work for them, no matter how you feel about GWB. That’s just not smart.
I do so agree with you on this. He has governed tirelessly and faithfully. I for one appreciate the job he has done.
I don’t know if this is correctly attributed or not:
“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”
After a few months of that, Bush is going to look better. Ex-Presidents, for one reason or another usually do, if only because they're finally out of office.
The man did some good, and he had a tough job. He certainly had a tougher job than Bill Clinton did.
But really, as presidents go, he just wasn't one of the best. I'd like to say otherwise, but just can't. He didn't seem to want to job or to bring his best to it. And he had a hard time winning people over and keeping them won over.
If you had told me back in the 1980s -- and even perhaps as late as 1992-93 -- that within the next 15 years NATO would be adding former Warsaw Pact countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia . . . as well as former Soviet Republics such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania . . . I would have thought you'd be nuts.
I truly believe that when we look back at this era some decades from now, the expansion of U.S. influence into eastern Europe -- even past the crumbling Iron Curtain itself -- will be remembered as one of the most far-reaching developments in modern history.
And I'm not a huge fan of George W. Bush, BTW. But I always have a tendency to take a very "big picture" view of things.
No car bombs filled with ball-bearings and nails went off in front of a crowded grocery store or sidewalk cafe in the US during his tenure since 9/11. We'll see how long that lasts after he's gone.
Bush was a decent man in many ways, and he did some good things.
But he was a terrible communicator, a big spender, and completely unable to impose any political control. That last was his worst fault. He completely failed to broom out the top levels of government, he lost control of most of his own agencies, including the FBI and the CIA. He lost control of the Republicans in congress. He didn’t seem to understand that you can’t run a country just by being “nice.”
He made two great SCOTUS appointments, but he was as much responsible as anyone for the election of Obama, who will probably make three or four terrible SCOTUS appointments and completely undo the good Bush accomplished.
Because Bush favored the RINO way, there were no young conservatives on the scene ready to replace him. He didn’t groom anyone to be his successor.
Even the War on Terror will be seen as a disaster, if he is seen as having mismanged it politically, failed to explain it to the people, and as a result helped to elect the man who may pull out our troops, destroy our military, and get involved in misadventures worse than any clinton achieved in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Finally, he named Paulson and a gang of traitors to the treasury and the Fed. He failed to follow through on controlling the economic bubble he inherited from clinton. He didn’t have a clue what was happening when Paulson pulled his October Surprise. Dodd, Paulson, Pelosi, and Obama ran rings around him—and around McCain, when he tried to jump in.
Even last month, he kept the removal of 500 tons of yellowcake from Iraq to Canada, which would have demolished the Dem story that Saddam wasn’t working on WMDs. Why? Because it was supposedly classified “secret.” Oh, sure, that’s why it was known to everybody, including al Qaeda. The only people he kept it secret from were ignorant voters. That was just one incident, but it was absolutely typical of his absolute cluelessness as a political fighter.
W will float back up to the middle of the pack in 20 years or so. Even Nixon was belatedly praised by some historians for his foreign policy (imperfect for sure, but far superior to LBJ’s or Dhimmi Qarter’s).
It doesn’t matter what we think; we are the Fringe, and our voices mean nothing.
He will be revised by the New Order for all time.
I’m not going to read the thread because I know that it will be wall-to-wall Bush bashing, but history will treat George W. Bush very well.
I believe that President Bush tried too hard to reach out to the entire country and got no respect from either side. He was just too dam* nice.
1) illegal amnesty and SS benefits for illegals
2) Putting all his chips on Iraq invasion and then fighting it on the cheap and claiming we are winning when he knew we were losing to get through 2004 election
3) invester bailout bill must be passed immediately 700B
4) No vouchers left behind. He sold out vouchers.
5) bankrupting medicare with drug entitlement
6) government grows astronomically with deficit (GWB wont let them raise your taxes, HA, see 7)
7) Pelsoi Obama Reid with large majorities, lost us 2006+2008
I am not a mindnumb robot republican and never will be. That is what got us here! His screwups will give Obama/Pelosi many free passes before people get upset with their marxist insanity. Look, at least Clinton only lost democats one election 1994. This guy had to lose us two. Do it BIG!
Read on...it’s not all bad. :)
> I am not a mindnumb robot republican and never will be. That is what got us here! His screwups will give Obama/Pelosi many free passes before people get upset with their marxist insanity.
That may or may not be so. It is hardly helpful to pot-shot your own guy’s legacy, if for no other reason than it validates the opposition’s outcome: they were right to oppose Bush and elect Obama instead of giving the GOP another shot at the White House.