Date: Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 9:11 AM
Why We Suddenly Miss Bush
Various polls report that George W. Bush in some states is now better
liked than President Obama. Even some liberal pundits call for Bush,
the now long-missed moderate, to draw on his recognized tolerance and
weigh in on the Ground Zero mosque or the Arizona anti-immigration
legislation. Apparently, the erstwhile divider is now the healer that
the healer Obama is not.
As President Obama’s polls dip, as Congress is widely disdained, and
as the economy slumps, suddenly George Bush is missed. Why so? Let me
list ten likely reasons.
1) The Obama record. We naturally compare Bush to his chief critic and
successor Barack Obama — and find the latter increasingly wanting as
time goes by. Obama turned Bush’s misdemeanor deficits into felonious
trillion-dollar annual shortfalls. He will pile up more debt than any
other prior president.
Indeed, if reelected, Obama will borrow more than all previous
administrations combined. Bush was tarred in 2004 for a “jobless
recovery” when unemployment hovered near 6%. It is now almost 10% and
Obama still harps about “jobs saved.” Scott McClellan may have been
singularly inept; we are not so sure after Robert Gibbs. For every
Brownie there is a worse Van Jones or Anita Dunn. For Katrina we have
BP. Bush’s NASA did space; Obama’s seems to prefer Muslim outreach.
Bush’s prescription drug benefit was an unfunded liability; ObamaCare
is a trillion-dollar financial black-hole. I could go on, but Obama’s
lackluster record is improving Bush’s legacy every day.
2) Obama as Bush. Senator and then candidate Obama demagogued Bush on
a variety of issues, which, as president, he simply flipped and
endorsed. Remember Bush’s gulag at Guantanamo? Or how about the
terror-producing Predators? Or the need for an immediate pull-out from
Iraq? Or those terrible renditions and tribunals?
In case after case of national security, Obama dropped the cheap
rhetorical one-upmanship, and, when invested with the responsibility
of governance, simply adopted, or even trumped, the Bush protocols.
General Petraeus, whose testimony Hillary once suggested required “a
suspension of disbelief” and whom Obama cut off and did not allow to
speak during his infamous 2007 Senate hearing, suddenly is to be
Obama’s savior general.
Candidate Obama claimed the surge failed and all combat troops should
be out of Bush’s Iraq war by March 2008. President Obama now calls
Iraq a “remarkable chapter” as his vice president claims it as one of
the administration’s “greatest achievements.” In short, almost daily,
Obama is following the Bush anti-terrorism policies — the irony made
worse by petulance and ingratitude in not acknowledging his debt.
3) Bush Did It. It is a uniquely American trait to shun whining and
petulance. Rugged individualism and can-do optimism used to be
ingrained in our national character, and even in our 11th hour have
not wholly disappeared. So the public is tiring of Obama’s Pavlovian
blaming of Bush. After 20 months, it is time for the president to get
a life and quit the “heads you lose/tails I win” attitude about
presidential responsibility. If he now takes credit for calm in Iraq
without crediting the surge, then Obama can surely take blame for the
anemic recovery — brought on by his own bullying of business that has
frightened free enterprise into stasis. Note that Bush, unlike
Clinton, has not engaged in emeritus tit-for-tat recrimination, and
has kept largely quiet in dignified repose. Obama serially goes after
Hannity, Limbaugh, and Beck by name; Bush let the slander of a Michael
Moore or Keith Olbermann go unanswered.
4) Who is the real yuppie? The media tried to paint Bush as the
privileged yuppie, masquerading as the Texas rancher, idly
chain-sawing on his spread. But at least Bush went to the Texas
outback for vacation and got his hands dirty. Obama’s problem is that
Axelrod and Emanuel could not stage a chain-sawing task for Obama if
they tried — severe injury would surely follow. The bowling moment in
the campaign was as disastrous as the later Obama girlish first pitch.
From 2001-3, presidential golf was proof of aristocratic disdain and
laziness. Suddenly from 2009-2010 — given that Obama has hit the
greens more in 20 months than Bush did in eight years — the Ministry
of Truth redefined the game as necessary egalitarian relaxation. Given
the choice, the public would probably prefer a little overdone Texas
“smoke ‘em out” braggadocio to worries over the price of arugula.
5) Michelle is no Laura. Remember the narrative: conservative women
are elitists who decorate, buy nice clothes, and play Barbie; liberal
first ladies are doers who are independent feminists that can’t be
bothered by inanities like fashion and play. But Michelle this summer
enjoyed a movable feast from Marbella to Martha’s Vineyard, in
designer clothes and shades. Laura Bush used to vacation at the
national parks. Laura Bush often disagreed with her husband and
sometimes offered a liberal “Oh, come on, George” to her husband’s
occasional flight-suit strutting. Michelle, in contrast, is the second
half of the partisan Obama tag-team, perennially whining that “they
raised the bar.” After “downright mean country” and “never before been
proud,” we miss Laura Bush’s common sense and nonpartisanship. Ga-ga
media talk of Michelle’s biceps, not the earthy decency reminiscent of
a Laura Bush.
6) UN first; US second. If Bush was a supposed “cowboy,” there at
least was never doubt that his first and foremost interest was the US,
not the “international community.” One Obama bow was okay; one apology
about genocide tolerable; one smug cast-off line that we are not
exceptional understandable; one mea culpa sent to the corrupt UN human
rights crowd I suppose forgivable. But add them up and we sense that
our president is embarrassed about America’s history and culture — but
not quite embarrassed enough not to enjoy its material bounty to the
7) Who will criticize the critics? American elites crucified Bush.
Vein-bulging Al Gore called him a liar. John Edwards and John Kerry
tag-teamed him in vicious attacks. Alfred A. Knopf published a novel
imagining his assassination. The Toronto Film Festival gave first
prize to Death of a President, a 2006 docudrama about killing
President Bush. I could go on again, but you remember the times, in
which everyone from John Glenn to Garrison Keillor played the Bush
And now? John Edwards imploded in scandal. John Kerry was exposed as a
tax-dodging elitist hypocrite. Al Gore, if not a sex poodle, at least
is a green-con-artist of the billionaire sort, who both hyped a
world-ending crisis and then profited from his rhetorical overkill by
selling supposed green snake oil in the fashion of medieval penances.
CBS, the New York Times, and Newsweek now totter near financial
insolvency, after showing both poor judgment and questionable ethics:
from the Times’ offering a discount for the MoveOn.org “General Betray
Us” ad to a Newsweek senior editor declaring Obama a “god.” Suddenly
bad things have happened to most of Bush’s loudest critics. (Note I’ll
pass on the post-Bush Letterman or the post-Bush Rangel).
8. Bush’s disasters proved not quite disasters. Take the two most
famous: Iraq and Katrina. Iraq is calm and can make it as a consensual
state. Kurdistan is booming, not on a genocidal watch list. We killed
thousands of al-Qaeda terrorists in Anbar province. That helped to
keep us safe from another 9/11-like attack. Libya gave up its WMD. Dr.
Khan shut down his nuclear franchising. American troops left Saudi
Arabia. Syria got out of Lebanon. Iraq neither attacks four of its
neighbors, nor does the government there give shelter to the likes of
Abu Nidal and the architect of the first World Trade bombing attempt.
Understandably, Biden and Obama now see something to claim and hope we
forget their own assurances that it was either lost or to be
The BP mess (oh, how Nemesis likes to strike in the same locale!)
reminded us how the federal government is inept under any president,
whether during a man-made or nature-induced calamity. Shutting down
oil drilling in the Gulf may be the worst legacy of the spill. Much of
Katrina’s mess, in retrospect, can be attributed as much to anemic
local and state responses and an endemic New Orleans culture of
dependency as to Brownie’s FEMA incompetence.
9) Bush was not corrupt and ran an especially ethical administration.
Before Obama even started, we had the Blago mess (of which the final
story is not yet in) and the Bill Richardson, Tom Daschle, Tim
Geithner, and Hilda Solis ethical lapses. Bush condemned Republican
malfeasance and kept his distance. But suddenly the culture of
corruption is not so corrupt when Chris Dodd, Charles Rangel, Maxine
Waters, and others prove as compromised as Duke Cunningham and Larry
Craig. The Chicago crowd makes the Crawford crowd look like pikers.
Bush said not a word about Obama and BP; Obama viciously attacked Bush
as incompetent during Katrina. You decide.
10) Bush was authentic. He mangled his words. A liberal industry grew
up around both “nuclar” and its sometimes corrective “nucular.” He
strutted and talked Nascarese-like “bring ‘em on.” Much of this was
excessive, but we knew at least Bush meant it. We got worried when he
extemporaneously expounded for long riffs about freedom at press
conferences, as his eyes rolled and he drifted from topic to topic. He
put his arm on Angela Merkel and cried out “Yo Blair.” The media told
us he was a yokel; we might add: albeit an authentic one who could
duck properly when under shoe attack.
But Obama? He cannot really speak off the teleprompter without pauses,
repetitions, and constant self-referencing (as in “me,” “I,” “my,”
etc.). He is stiff and not comfortable with himself off the court or
golf course. Bush made decisions and stuck by them; Obama the
professor offers a perennial “on the one hand”/”on the other hand”
mish-mash and a sorta, kinda, almost answer. Americans would prefer to
be in a foxhole with George Bush, who would swagger and announce as
decider-in-chief at H-hour, “Okay, pard, we’re going over the top
together on this one.” They wouldn’t want to be with Obama, who would
stutter and give a long-drawn out exegesis why race and class had
condemned us to such an unfair predicament, whose only solution is to
go into a fetal position and condemn “them” who did this awful thing
Who knows? At this rate America may play Brandon DeWilde to Bush’s
Shane: “Bush — Come Back, Bush, Come Back!”
Date: Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 9:11 AM
10/05/2010 07:02:00 AM
GEORGE W. BUSH,
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This entry was posted on 10/05/2010 07:02:00 AM and is filed under BARACK OBAMA , GEORGE W. BUSH , Gulf Spill , HEALTH CARE . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.