Worst President in America History Is Trying to Spin His Nightmare Legacy
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Americans are a forgiving and forgetting people. That’s all that can explain the rise in George W. Bush’s approval ratings since he left office in 2009. Back then, he had the lowest approval rating of any departing president since Richard Nixon (who departed in a helicopter after resigning in disgrace) with a 33 percent overall approval rating. Only 24 percent of Americans approved of his handling of the recession-bound economy. As recently as last November’s election, more voters blamed Bush than President Obama for the country’s ongoing economic woes.
Now, on the eve of the opening of his presidential library and an apparent Bush-rehabilitation tour, starting with a Diane Sawyer interview Wednesday night, Bush faces a kinder, gentler American public. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, Americans are now split on the former president, with 47 percent approving of his performance and 50 percent disapproving. He’s still underwater, as the pollsters say, but that’s not a bad jump in four years. He’s even climbed on the economy, with 43 percent now approving of the job he did, while 57 percent stayed tethered to the reality-based community, and still disapprove.
Bush has even climbed among Democrats: 25 percent approve of the job he did, up from only 6 percent when he left office. (Who says Democrats are haters?)
What’s going on? And will Bush’s comeback tour bump his numbers up even more, which would be some rare good news for the broken, embattled Republican Party?
A few things are clear: This campaign is as much about cleaning up the mess he made for his brother Jeb, who clearly wants to claim his rightful place in the White House, as it is about refurbishing his legacy. Last week Bush told Parade magazine he hopes his brother runs. “I would hope that people would judge [him], if Jeb were to run, on his merits and his track record.…So I hope he will run.” The Bush rehabilitation project is something the entire Republican Party needs – as evidenced by the breathless reaction of the party’s top cheerleader, Jennifer Rubin. (I mean no sexism by calling Rubin a cheerleader; her hero Bush was a cheerleader in prep school.)
“Bush is back!” her dopey Washington Post column declared Tuesday. Here’s a snippet:
It took less than 4 1/2 years of the Obama presidency for President George W. Bush to mount his comeback…Why the shift? Aside from the “memories fade” point, many of his supposed failures are mild compared to the current president (e.g. spending, debt). Unlike Obama’s tenure, there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11. People do remember the big stuff — rallying the country after the Twin Towers attack, 7 1/2 years of job growth and prosperity, millions of people saved from AIDS in Africa, a good faith try for immigration reform, education reform and a clear moral compass.
I warn you, it gets worse. This might be Rubin’s most craven and dishonest column since her countless craven and dishonest columns flacking for Mitt Romney.
But Rubin’s spin won’t work, and neither will Bush’s rehab tour. He is the worst president in modern history, by any measure. Americans don’t like disliking their presidents, so his recovery was predictable, but Bush’s media tour is likely to provoke a backlash, or at least closer media scrutiny to his record. Or at least it should.
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I’ve always felt a tiny bit sorry for Bush. The self-described “black sheep” of his privileged family of compulsive, competitive overachievers, he was never supposed to be president: The honor was meant to go to his smarter, smoother brother Jeb. His favorite job ever, he told us in his autobiography, was being a sporting goods salesman at Sears.