I have always thought that it is unfair that George W. Bush left office with the lowest poll numbers since Nixon and with a consensus by presidential historians that he was a failure as president. I would not say that Bush was the greatest president in American history, or even that he deserves to be rated among the top ten. Still, he was not a failure. If Bush’s media coverage had not been so unrelentingly negative, he might been more popular when he left office. If the media did their jobs and actually covered President Obama, instead of being his lap-dog, it is likely that Obama’s favorability ratings would be even lower than Bush’s. As for the historians, it is obviously too early to make any sort of balanced assessment of Bush’s presidency and I think that his low ranking among historians is more a reflection of their political biases then any considered reflections on his presidency.
I have also thought that over time, the public and historical perception of George W. Bush would improve somewhat. Harry Truman was also very unpopular when he left office, yet many people today regard him as one of our better presidents. I thought that this process might take somewhere between twenty and fifty years. It seems, however, that the public perception of George W. Bush is improving more quickly that I expected. Bush’s presidential library opens this week, and his approval ratings are up, according to the Washington Post.
George W. Bush will return to the spotlight this week for the dedication of his presidential library, an event likely to trigger fresh public debate about his eight fateful years in office. But he reemerges with a better public image than when he left Washington more than four years ago.
Since then, Bush has absented himself from both policy disputes and political battles. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests that the passage of time and Bush’s relative invisibility have been beneficial to a chief executive who left office surrounded by controversy.
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. Among registered voters, his approval rating today is equal to President Obama’s, at 47 percent, according to the latest Post-ABC surveys.
Majorities said they still disapprove of Bush’s performance on the Iraq war and the economy, but his economic approval numbers nearly doubled between December 2008 and today, from 24 percent to 43 percent, with 53 percent disapproving. Iraq remains the most troublesome part of his legacy. Today, 57 percent say they disapprove of his decision to invade, though that is down from 65 percent in the spring of 2008, the last time the question was asked.
Much of the reason for this improvement in Bush’s ratings is due to his decision to stay out of the public eye. Bush hasn’t been aggressively promoting himself but has stayed at his ranch. He does make speeches, etc, but he seems content to no longer be at the center of things, and maybe that is not something he ever really wanted. Of course, no matter what happens, the liberals are going to hate George Bush. They can’t live without hatred.
Another reason might be that compared to his successor, Bush’s record doesn’t look at all bad. And, say what you will about Bush at least he didn’t feel the need to apologize for America to every tin-pot tyrant and Muslim terrorist.
- Go Ahead, Admit It: George W. Bush is a Good Man (1800politics.com) That is another factor. In his personal relations, Bush seems to be a genuinely decent person.
- Vinidcating the legacy of W. (baddiesboogie.com)
- George Bush Hasn’t Been This Popular Since 2005 (theatlanticwire.com)
- Poll: Bush approval up post-W.H. (politico.com)
- America’s Baffling Historical Amnesia: Suddenly President Bush’s Approval Ratings Are the Same As Obama’s (alternet.org) Or, maybe Obama happens to be a worse president.
- George W. Bush gains poll favor as presidential library sets to open (washingtontimes.com)