The Legacy of Bush 43

January 17th, 2009

I’ve been reflecting on how history will judge President George W. Bush.  This is a difficult topic.  There are those who actually hate him, viscerally and with no sense of fairness or proportion.  There are also those who like him and strongly support him, despite everything.  I fall somewhere in the middle, and I suspect there are a lot of other people in the same place.

To begin, there was the election of 2000, which Democrats believe was stolen from them in Florida and by the Supreme Court.  Anyone who has actually read the Court’s Bush v. Gore decision, along with the history of how it got to the Supreme Court, knows it wasn’t stolen.  Those who go further and read the studies of what most likely would have happened if the decision had gone the other way know that Gore probably would have lost anyway.  Sadly, facts like this don’t matter, at least not yet.

People who still support Bush unreservedly are equally blind.  He did things that turned out badly, and he missed opportunities to do better.  In particular, his management of federal taxing and spending was atrocious.  You can’t tax like a Republican and spend like a Democrat and get away with it forever.  The economic crisis of 2008 will also blemish his legacy for the short term, even though he didn’t do much to cause it and couldn’t have done much to prevent it. 

The term “current history” is an oxymoron.  The most significant source we now have on the presidency of Bush 43 is the media, which has been consistently biased against him.  Their reporting for the past eight years has consisted not so much of outright lies, Dan Rather notwithstanding, but of a constant drumbeat of negative and misleading information.  The media bears a heavy responsibility for turning Americans and foreigners alike against the President and the U.S. itself.  Slipping along behind them, like street sweepers following the horses in a parade, have been ill-educated but fashionable Hollywood glitterati, liberal bloggers spewing spittle onto their monitors, and all the usual foreign and domestic America-haters.

I think objective historians in a decade or two will present a much more balanced and factual picture of President Bush and his administration.  The reality of 2000 will be better understood; Katrina will be seen as a situation in which local and state governments failed badly, with the federal government doing better but not well; foreign assistance programs will be seen as strengthened and improved, with significantly greater support for the fight against AIDS; scandals such as those involving “torture,” electronic surveillance, WMDs, firing U.S. Attorneys, and so on will seem much less significant when put in perspective; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will be acknowledged as qualified successes; and most important, President Bush will get credit for preventing a major attack on U.S. soil after 9/11.

To some extent, this is a natural process.  History doesn’t work well with passions of the present swirling around it.  Truman is seen in a much more better light than he was a half-century ago, and Eisenhower’s presidency is being re-evaluated as time goes on.  Even Nixon is now being given more credit for his accomplishments.  So it will be with George W. Bush.

I’m not trying to paint President Bush in glowing colors.  I don’t think he was a particularly good president.  But I think he was better than Gore would have been and significantly better than Kerry would have been.  Time will tell–but I’m betting that the real history of this time, when finally written, will portray President Bush as a president who did a creditable job in a very difficult time.

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4 Responses to “The Legacy of Bush 43”

  1. doris |

    I think he will always be known as the buffoon who got us into a war with people who did not attack us, then couldn’t catch the one responsible, one old criple…. How do you know he’s better than Gore or Kerry? They didn’t get a chance to prove themselves, you can speculate, but no way of knowing. I surely think anything would’ve been better-look where we are now? Broke and almost beaten. Plus the world hates us, for the most part.

  2. Tom |

    Well, as far as Gore and Kerry are concerned, that’s what I did–speculated. But I think it’s true.

    We aren’t broke. We’ll climb out of this economic problem, like we always have. Politicians will probably make the climb longer and harder than it has to be, but we’ll still make it.

    And we certainly aren’t beaten in any sense of the word. I know that leftist politicians and the media want us to think that, but it isn’t true.

  3. doris |

    You may not be broke, but most of the small businesses are, or almost are. Plus many large corporations are going under, you can’t possibly not know that? And, believe it or not, prices are going up, again, and it is very hard to pass that on to your customers, they are boycotting products. It’s very tough all over, you can believe the media about this one, yes we will come out of this, but at what cost, most of our businesses. A lot of huge corporations will fall, too, of course they may have caused theirs, but high prices caused most of ours. We do have hope and for the future, maybe the tooth fairy will come, because we certainly can’t afford the Dentist or we will all win the lottery.

  4. Brian Bagent |

    Doris, with only a few minor changes, Gore’s resume is indistinguishable from Bush’s. Bush has the plausible excuse of perhaps having been affected by alcohol abuse. Gore has no such plausible excuse – he’s just not very bright. On the downside, he is exceedingly dishonest, and has made a fortune off of oil (while excoriating oil companies, and the Bush family for making money off of oil) and is working on scamming people out of money over global warming.

    Kerry would be another ignoble footnote in history if not for stabbing his former comrades-in-arms in the back.

    And what they all 3 have in common is that they have never held honest jobs in their lives (outside of military service). Gore’s fortune came from his daddy, just like Bush. Senator Ketchup married into money. I don’t think any of them have what it takes to run a lemonade stand.

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