If Harry Truman is the template for rehabilitation of a President’s image, I’d say George W. Bush will do just fine.
According to the WSJ survey of Presidential approval polls (the one I’ve been using a lot), Harry Truman matched Nixon for the lowest plunge in approval in the poll’s history–outstripping W by nearly 10 percentage points. Similar to Truman, Bush’s approval margin rebounded in the waning days of his Presidency to finish around 30%. Not great, but also far from an indicator of future historical review. That is to say, future historians and future generations may well look back on the shortsighted opinion polls of today and wonder why in the hell we so disliked an obviously successful President.
This is what has happened to Harry Truman.
I don’t see a reason it can’t or won’t happen to George W. Bush.
[ed. note: BDS–Bush Derangement Syndrome–is one prominent reason.]
When Truman left office, his controversial war–Korea–was in a lot worse shape than George W. Bush’s controversial war–Iraq.
Korea was on its way to what remains a permanent division between North & South. The North would go on to starve, kill, & re-educate millions of its people and be a nuclear obsessed pain in the posterior for American and the rest of the free world.
Contrast that with Iraq: A deposed dictator–by all accounts, the worse in the world at the time. Elimination of a aspirational nuclear/biological/chemical weapon threat. Establishment of a democratic ally/genuine friend to the U.S. in a historically contentious and unstable part of the world. The success of the surge and Bush’s resistance to popular pressure to pull a Vietnam and leave Iraqis to certain genocide is another positive mark in Bush’s column.
Given Truman’s Korea precedent, how do you think President Bush is going to look upon further review?
Caveat emptor: The aforementioned BDS and outright hate of Bush demonstrated by the media (and leftist intellectuals) make even a future, unbiased examination of President Bush a very tall order. The fact that Truman was, of course, a Democrat, adds to the comparative difficulty.
But it also makes for an interesting, counterfactual consideration: If Bush had done all the things he had done, but were a Democrat, do you think we (collectively speaking) would have a similar view of him now?
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