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.
Oh, I know. But, one never knows what the future may bring.
There is a German saying which goes like “Reden ist Silber, aber schweigen ist Gold.” Which means: Talk is silver, but silence is gold”
But he also showed a photo of the entrance to the GWB library which said BUSH LIBERRY.
Yeah, but that arrogant pos occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave will always be the most despised “president” of all times to me.
I have always thought that time and history would be kind to President George W. Bush.
Here is a great piece that I found yesterday
George W. Bush is smarter than you
by Keith Hennessey, April 24, 2013
The new George W. Bush Presidential Center is being dedicated this week. This seems like a good time to bust a longstanding myth about our former President, my former boss.
I teach a class at Stanford Business School titled Financial Crises in the U.S. and Europe. During one class session while explaining the events of September 2008, I kept referring to the efforts of the threesome of Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Tim Geithner, who were joined at the hip in dealing with firm-specific problems as they arose.
One of my students asked How involved was President Bush with what was going on? I smiled and responded, What you really mean is, Was President Bush smart enough to understand what was going on, right?
The class went dead silent. Everyone knew that this was the true meaning of the question. Kudos to that student for asking the hard question and for framing it so politely. I had stripped away that decorum and exposed the raw nerve.
I looked hard at the 60 MBA students and said President Bush is smarter than almost every one of you.
I could tell they were waiting for me to break the tension, laugh, and admit I was joking.
I did not. A few shifted in their seats, then I launched into a longer answer. While it was a while ago, here is an amalgam of that answer and others I have given in similar contexts.
I am not kidding. You are quite an intelligent group. Dont take it personally, but President Bush is smarter than almost every one of you. Were he a student here today, he would consistently get HP (High Pass) grades without having to work hard, and hed get an H (High, the top grade) in any class where he wanted to put in the effort.
For more than six years it was my job to help educate President Bush about complex economic policy issues and to get decisions from him on impossibly hard policy choices. In meetings and in the briefing materials we gave him in advance we covered issues in far more depth than I have been discussing with you this quarter because we needed to do so for him to make decisions.
President Bush is extremely smart by any traditional standard. Hes highly analytical and was incredibly quick to be able to discern the core question he needed to answer. It was occasionally a little embarrassing when he would jump ahead of one of his Cabinet secretaries in a policy discussion and the advisor would struggle to catch up. He would sometimes force us to accelerate through policy presentations because he so quickly grasped what we were presenting.
I use words like briefing and presentation to describe our policy meetings with him, but those are inaccurate. Every meeting was a dialogue, and you had to be ready at all times to be grilled by him and to defend both your analysis and your recommendation. That was scary.
We treat Presidential speeches as if they are written by speechwriters, then handed to the President for delivery. If I could show you one experience from my time working for President Bush, it would be an editing session in the Oval with him and his speechwriters. You think that me cold-calling you is nerve-wracking? Try defending a sentence you inserted into a draft speech, with President Bush pouncing on the slightest weakness in your argument or your word choice.
In addition to his analytical speed, what most impressed me were his memory and his substantive breadth. We would sometimes have to brief him on an issue that we had last discussed with him weeks or even months before. He would remember small facts and arguments from the prior briefing and get impatient with us when we were rehashing things we had told him long ago.
And while my job involved juggling a lot of balls, I only had to worry about economic issues. In addition to all of those, at any given point in time he was making enormous decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan, on hunting al Qaeda and keeping America safe. He was making choices not just on taxes and spending and trade and energy and climate and health care and agriculture and Social Security and Medicare, but also on education and immigration, on crime and justice issues, on environmental policy and social policy and politics. Being able to handle such substantive breadth and depth, on such huge decisions, in parallel, requires not just enormous strength of character but tremendous intellectual power. President Bush has both.
On one particularly thorny policy issue on which his advisors had strong and deep disagreements, over the course of two weeks we (his senior advisors) held a series of three 90-minute meetings with the President. Shortly after the third meeting we asked for his OK to do a fourth. He said, How about rather than doing another meeting on this, I instead tell you now what each person will say. He then ran through half a dozen of his advisors by name and precisely detailed each ones arguments and pointed out their flaws. (Needless to say there was no fourth meeting.)
Every prominent politician has a public caricature, one drawn initially by late-night comedy joke writers and shaped heavily by the press and ones political opponents. The caricature of President Bush is that of a good ol boy from Texas who is principled and tough, but just not that bright.
That caricature was reinforced by several factors:
I assume that some who read this will react automatically with disbelief and sarcasm. They think they know that President Bush is unintelligent because, after all, everyone knows that. They will assume that I am wrong, or blinded by loyalty, or lying. They are certain that they are smarter than George Bush.
I ask you simply to consider the possibility that Im right, that he is smarter than you.
If you can, find someone who has interacted directly with him outside the public spotlight. Ask that person about President Bushs intellect. I am confident you will hear what I heard dozens of times from CEOs after they met with him: Gosh, I had no idea he was that smart.
At a minimum I hope you will test your own assumptions and thinking about our former President. I offer a few questions to help that process.
And finally, if you base your view of President Bushs intellect on a public image and caricature shaped by late night comedians, op-ed writers, TV pundits, and Twitter, is that a smart thing for you to do?
By all means, please ignore that he set the table for the shit sandwich dinner we’re forced to eat now. “Patriot” act, homeland security (which supplied the tanks and weapons for the boston swat teams), largest ever expansion of medicare, no child left behind. I could go on for quite awhile.
And of course keeping his mouth shut helps him. He can’t string together 3 sentances without sounding like a blithering idiot. But we have a new sock puppet to hate on. meet the new boss, same as the old boss...George W Obama.
As have I
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Orangedog hasn't created an about page.
Conversely, despite the dailu cover up for our current inept president, the reality that is a terrible president is obvious to many because its all around them.
yeah, over the past 10 years I never was enough of an ego maniac to post an entire page about me, me, me(!). But don’t let me get in the way of your hero worship of Lyndon Baines Bush.
WTH Up! The entire Bush clan is comprised of failed leadership for a free people. They are the enemy of Individual Freedom and the Constitution. They have always been in favor of the NWO.
Mine too! I didn't agree with his stance on immigration but he didn't falter when we were attacked, and his love of God and country was evident every day. He and Laura had (have) a lot of class and grace.
You could at least put your state flag up
Like I want advertise that I’m living in the land of fast food, college football cults and big assed soccer moms.
I'd settle for five minutes of silence.
Tell that to Sarah Palin.
Texas soccer moms are hot...
Texas handle would be BurntOrangedog.
HS football is king here, especially in the Metroplex. Best place in the world for Friday Night Lights.
Worse...Ohio. Soccer moms here usually come with an ass the size of a barcalounger. And they have a sense of entitlement that would make the stereotypical inner city welfare queen blush.
LOL!!! I wasn’t even close.
Indeed. Some men talk tough, but GWB can actually walk the talk.
Who can forget this classic? George Bush scuffles with Chilean security guards:
You tell her. I haven’t seen her lately.
In before the first miss me yet?
Well, at least Kaslin’s favorite was not Bill Clinton who, having left office in January 2001 must be considered the first president of the twenty first century, even if you consider it as I do to have begun on January 1, 2001. I am rather dismayed to see how many Americans seem to think Slick was a really great president, to me the idea is absurd. I have heard it said that the best thing about Clinton is that he did not really do a lot, I think that is probably true.
What he was NOT was the republican equivalent of the Kenyan Kommie.
You got that right, but then I never voted for a democRat and never will. Compared though to that arrogant pos occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Clinton was better then that pos is. At least he negotiated with the Republicans, while the usurper thinks that everything must go his way
Class and more important, maturity.
Why should he speak up, engage in the mud fights of the day?
Who needs it?
Guy’s got it made in the shade, enjoying life.