Skip to comments.As Bush Stays Silent, His Reputation Steadily Gains
Posted on 04/25/2013 5:06:30 AM PDT by Kaslin
Tomorrow, the George W. Bush Presidential Center will be dedicated at Southern Methodist University in Texas. It's a good time to look back on the performance of the 43rd president, who has been almost entirely missing from the public stage these past four years.
It's widely assumed that Bush is generally despised by the public. The perceptive American Interest blogger Walter Russell Mead stirred the ire of some former Bush aides when he recommended that Republicans avoid any defense of his record and move on to new issues.
But perhaps Bush's name is not mud any more. The Washington Post/ABC poll asked respondents to rate Bush's performance for the first time since December 2008, when only 33 percent rated it positively and 66 percent rated it negatively.
What the pollster found is that today 47 percent approve and 50 percent disapprove of Bush's performance. That approval number is precisely the same as Barack Obama's in the most recent Post/ABC poll.
Clearly many Americans have been reconsidering their verdict on George W. Bush. Many have come to think better of him than they did in the last four months of his tenure, when we were facing a financial crisis and sharp economic downturn.
Barack Obama will be at the Bush Center dedication and will presumably refrain from his usual carping about his predecessor, adopting for the moment the protocol followed by every other president in the last six decades.
The three other living former presidents will also be there -- Bill Clinton, who has enjoyed high ratings ever since leaving office, and Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, who were defeated for re-election.
Their presence will be a reminder that with the passage of time we can appreciate presidents' genuine achievements and glide over their deficiencies and mistakes.
Republicans can appreciate that Carter provided leadership in transportation deregulation, which has strengthened our economy ever since, and brokered a peace between Egypt and Israel that even the current Muslim Brotherhood government has refrained from renouncing.
Democrats can appreciate that George Bush 41 provided deft guidance at the end of the Cold War, triumphed in the Gulf War and pressed successfully for the Americans With Disabilities Act.
It's an interesting coincidence that both these pairs of presidents were born in the same year -- Carter and Bush 41 in 1924, Clinton and Bush 43 in 1946, generally considered the first year of the postwar baby boom.
These two baby boom presidents illustrate how much individual character can shape presidential performance.
Clinton is one of those politicians who wanted to be president since he was a little boy. As a student and a candidate, he never seemed to prepare much but showed time and again that he could improvise and get himself out of trouble of his own making.
His brilliant political instincts were matched by an almost compulsive interest in the details of public policy. His major misfire came when he left the drafting of his health care program to others.
George W. Bush does not seem to have always wanted to be president. I think he believed that God had put it in his way, and he did his best to prepare himself for it.
Clinton was chronically late, while Bush characteristically showed up ahead of time. Clinton would keep rewriting his State of the Union speeches as he rode to the Capitol. Bush liked to have his big speeches prepared days in advance.
Clinton's indiscipline caused him problems, but he managed to surmount them. Bush's tendency to regard decisions as settled could cause problems, too. In retrospect, he should have revisited military strategy in Iraq sooner than in late 2006 and early 2007, when he put in place the successful surge.
Iraq and the financial crisis obscured Bush's successful initiatives -- the tax cuts, the bipartisan education accountability law, the Medicare prescription drug program, the PEPFAR program to curb AIDS in Africa.
They were the product of deliberate effort and careful preparation -- and some shrewd political calculation.
The Post/ABC poll suggests that Americans have been developing a more well-rounded assessment of Bush's stewardship, even as he has remained mostly silent in public.
Some presidents' reputations rise as they move into history. Harry Truman, reviled when he left office, was recognized later for getting the big decisions right despite some obvious mistakes.
The same thing seems to be happening, more quickly, with George W. Bush.
There is no comparison between Bush and the current imposter. Bush is a good person, a man of principle and believer in God. But a liberal.
We are stuck with a communist, marxist, sympathizer for the middle eastern death cult unprincipled lying America-hating narcissist pos.
I for one like him
No surprise. obama even makes Carter’s record look good.
Don’t hold back... It not healthy.
Yes, GWB can’t help but rise in stature in comparison to the current pPresident. It’s worth noting, though, that five years of absolute silence would probably help Obama’s image, too.
All explained here in fact:
He is and will always be my most favorite president of the 21st century
I for one love him. He wasn’t perfect and I didn’t agree with everything he did, but he was and is a man of honor who loves this country. Polar opposites from what we have now.
Talk about damning by faint praise.
As do I. Very much. Fair or not, however, the unblinking eye of history, will come to judge him harshly. For it was he that created The Department of Homeland Security. A monstrous, bloated federal agency, that his successor wields as a bludgeon against the American people.
I agree, I for one liked him also. He had enormous respect for the Office of President which the currect President does not. He said that he was alway humble when he was in the Office of the President and the history of the office.
He loves his country and he loved and always respected his troops in which he was Commander in Chief. I’ve never forgotten that.
Mr. President George W Bush have a wonderful day today in the dedication of your Presidential library
George Bush killed terrorists. Dead.
In before the first “miss me yet?”
"will always be"? Bush was clearly the best so far, but I'm bonnietylering over here, hoping for better times ahead.
Heck, how can it not gain, when he’s compared to Obama; Benedict Arnold would look pretty good compared to Obama.
Silence is golden...especially when one is prone to say stupid things.
You cannot beat class, and the Bush familoy wrote the booki.