News & Politics

America's Baffling Historical Amnesia: Suddenly President Bush's Approval Ratings Are the Same As Obama's

A new poll shows that President George W. Bush’s reputation has a chance of being rehabilitated.

Photo Credit: AFP

Are Americans forgetting the disaster that was the Bush administration? A new poll could be an indication that President George W. Bush’s reputation has a chance of being rehabilitated, though it’s not fully there yet.

Bush is stepping into the public eye after a long hiatus as his presidential library dedication takes place Thursday at the Southern Methodist University in Texas. Thousands of invited world leaders and dignitaries, including President Barack Obama and the four other living ex-presidents, will be on hand. And a poll released from the Washington Post/ABC News reveals that Americans are slowly beginning to warm back up to Bush.

“Days before his second term ended in 2009, Bush’s approval rating among all adults was 33 percent positive and 66 percent negative. The new poll found 47 percent saying they approve and 50 percent saying they disapprove,” the Washington Post reports. “Among registered voters, his approval rating today is equal to President Obama’s, at 47 percent, according to the latest Post-ABC surveys.”

Iraq remains the albatross around Bush’s neck. 57 percent told pollsters that the invasion of Iraq was a bad idea, though that’s down from 65 percent in 2008. But more and more Americans also approve of Bush’s economic performance. 43 percent approve of Bush’s economic policies, up from 24 percent in 2008. This statistic indicates that some American citizens are forgetting that Bush’s economic policies--tax cuts for the rich and deregulation--helped contribute to the economic crash. His administration was also responsible for bailing out Wall Street--a hugely unpopular decision.

His advisers are busy trying to rehabilitate his image, and one told the Washington Post that the Iraq troop surge and the bailout were decisions that reflected “strong presidential leadership and, as we now see in retrospect, excellent judgment.” Some historians doubt a full rehabilitation of Bush’s reputation will take place, but the poll numbers show a slow inching towards that.

It’s a clear as day indication that Americans suffer from some serious historical amnesia. The disasters of Iraq, the economy and Hurricane Katrina are serious blots on Bush’s historical record. It’s baffling that nearly half the country now says they approve of his presidency.


Don't let big tech control what news you see. Get more stories like this in your inbox, every day.

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.