September 16, 2010

This Column By…

…Victor Davis Hanson must be shared. I rarely post an entire column, but this one is just so… so…

Well, it’s titled, appropriately enough, Rethinking George Bush?

Former President George W. Bush left office with the lowest approval ratings since Richard Nixon. In reaction, for nearly two years President Barack Obama won easy applause by prefacing almost every speech on his economic policies with a “Bush did it” put-down.

But suddenly Bush seems OK. Last week, the president did the unthinkable: He praised Bush for his past efforts to reach out to Muslims. Vice President Joe Biden went further and blurted out, “Mr. Bush deserves a lot of credit.” Biden topped that off with, “Mr. President, thank you.”

Even liberal pundits have now called on Bush to help Obama diffuse rising tensions over the so-called Ground Zero mosque and Arizona’s illegal immigration law.

What’s going on?

For one thing, recent polls show an astounding rebound in the former president’s favorability — to the extent that in the bellwether state of Ohio, voters would rather still have Bush as president than Obama by a 50-42 margin. Nationwide, Obama’s approval ratings continue to sink to near 40 percent — a nadir that took years for Bush to reach. It has become better politics to praise rather than to bury Bush.

Iraq seems on the road to success, with a growing economy and a stabilizing government. Don’t take my word on that; ask Vice President Biden. He recently claimed that the way Iraq is going, it could become one of the Obama administration’s “greatest achievements.”

Obama himself seconded that when the former war critic called the American effort in Iraq “a remarkable chapter” in the history of the two countries.

Then there are the growing comparisons with Bush’s supposed past transgressions.

Compared to Obama, they’re starting to look like traffic tickets now. Take the economy and the war on terror. Americans were angry at the Bush-era deficits. But they look small after Obama trumped them in less than two years.

For six years of the Bush administration, Americans enjoyed a strong economy. So far, there hasn’t been a similar month under Obama. Bush had a one-time Wall Street meltdown, but Obama’s permanent big-government medicine for it seems far worse than the original disease.

If Hurricane Katrina showed government ineptness, so did the recent BP oil spill. Maybe such problems in the Gulf were neither Bush nor Obama’s fault alone, but are better attributed to the inept federal bureaucracy itself — or to freak weather and human laxity.

On the war on terror, Obama has dropped all the old campaign venom. Bush’s Guantanamo Bay detention facility, renditions, tribunals, intercepts, wiretaps, predator drone attacks, and policies in Afghanistan and Iraq are no longer dubbed a shredding of the Constitution. All are now seen as national security tools that must be kept, if not expanded, under Obama.

In comparison to Obama and his gaffes, Bush no longer seems the singular clod whom his opponents endlessly ridiculed. The supposedly mellifluent Obama relies on the teleprompter as if it were his umbilical cord. His occasional word mangling (he pronounced “corpsman” as “corpse-man”) and weird outbursts (he recently complained that opponents “talk about me like a dog”) remind us that the pressures of the presidency can make a leader sometimes seem silly.

Bush now seems cool because he has played it cool. The more Obama and Biden have trashed him, the more silent and thus magnanimous he appears. Bush’s post-presidency is not like that of Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton — both have criticized their successors and hit the campaign trail — but similar to that of his father, who worked with, rather than harped about, Bill Clinton. That graciousness not only has helped George W. Bush in the polls, but it finally seems to be mellowing out Obama as well.

Criticism of Bush got out of hand the last few years of his term. Writing novels or making documentaries about killing the president, or libeling him as a Nazi, is not the sort of politics that we want continued during the Obama years. So it makes sense before the general election to halt the endless blame-gaming, before what goes around comes around.

The frenzy of Bush hatred and Obama worship that crested in the summer of 2008 is over. We now better remember the Bush at Ground Zero with a megaphone and his arm around a fireman than the Texan who pronounced “nuclear” as “nucular.” Meanwhile, hope-and-change now seems to offer little hope and less change.

America woke up from its 2008 trance and is concluding that Bush was never as bad, and Obama never as good, as advertised.

Well done, sir!

by @ 11:34 am. Filed under Great Commentary, Political Analysis, The President
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10 Responses to “This Column By…”

  1. BB-Idaho Says:

    The ex-president has handled himself extremely well. He said he was going to stay out of things and he has. With grace and dignity.
    I admire that. Now that ferret Cheney….:)

  2. Seth Says:

    BB –

    Now that ferret Cheney….

    C’mon now, what have you got against a patriot like Cheney? I know, it’s his haircut, right? :-)

  3. BB-Idaho Says:

    “C’mon now, what have you got against a patriot like Cheney? I know, it’s his haircut, right?” Yep, a pony tail would be classier. He was on his second deferment while I was in uniform…and I would’t hunt pheasants with the guy.
    So what makes him a patriot- that beady-eyed conspiratorial look
    or the growling out of the side of his mouth? :)
    …only reason Bush II picked him for VP was that Rumsfeld was out of country (and Palin was still a lil girl)

  4. Seth Says:

    BB –

    Did you ever watch a TV series that was on around 2002/2003 called The Agency? There was a character on the show who resembled Cheney who handled all the dirty work that was needed but that the DCI and others were either too law abiding or too sensitive to embrace. He had to do his thing completely behind everybody else backs, but the results invariably produced results that proved vital.

    Well, as we know, GWB was (is) a soft spoken, decent man of infinite principle. He needed a second whip who could be the heavy when a heavy was needed, who, while he was playing the PC political games expected of him, could weigh in on issues from a proactive POV.

    And, of course, a VP who was a crack shot…

    BTW, Cheney’s wasn’t a beady-eyed conspiratorial look, it was the penetrating gaze of a true leader. :-)

  5. BB-Idaho Says:

    True leader? Ya got me again..he shares greatness with these folks:
    “Cheney is a distant cousin of both Harry S. Truman and Barack Obama; the three share a common ancestor in Mareen Duvall, a Huguenot who fled from France to England in the 17th century and later settled in Maryland”. Who’d a thunk. :)

  6. Seth Says:

    BB –

    Despite these rumors, I cannot reconcile the distant cousin of Barack Obama part. While I am willing to concede that Mr. O was born a legal U.S. Citizen (I say “concede” because he sure doesn’t project anything other than an American accent that causes him to seem thus), I simply cannot believe that the likes of this one term president could possibly carry the blood of a Cheney in his veins, even twenty times removed, though a Truman might b remotely possible.

    If Mareen Duvall being maligned with the suggestion of descendancy to O holds any measure of fact, all I can say is “What can you expect? The guy was French (Spit!).” Even so, Anne Arundel County is a long way from the Islamic, and Polynesian locales “the story of O” has surrounding the origins of O.

  7. Always On Watch Says:

    That graciousness not only has helped George W. Bush in the polls, but it finally seems to be mellowing out Obama as well.

    BHO will be easier to defeat in November 2012 if he doesn’t get too mellow. Just a thought.

  8. Seth Says:

    AOW –

    Being gracious without interjecting some form of obvious politics into it, or being mellow in any way reminiscent of any kind of modesty or self-effacement is not in Obama’s nature — luckily — so, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that only the most bizarre form of mass insanity on the part of the electorate would see him in a second term (fingers crossed, just in case of above mentioned insanity).

    Even significant numbers of folks who voted for him are now wishing they hadn’t.

    The real problem, IMO, is the GOP finding a solid, realistic candidate to oppose O in 2012, as opposed to someone who merely talks conservative but belongs to the same old clique.

    If only Tom Tancredo would run again, and get around the neglect of the MSM to give him reasonable exposure. Him, or J.C. Watts.

  9. Cecile Pastorius Says:

    Obama’s policies suck, and his administration is in over their heads. He is spending us into an abyss and he has no understanding of economics.

  10. Chuck Says:


    You got that right! :-)