Home > George W. Bush, Republicans > Did Ya Miss Me?

Did Ya Miss Me?

George W. Bush Smiling at a Desk

President Bush is slowing reemerging into public view. I have mixed feelings about it. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

After disappearing to his ranch for a couple years, “Dubya” has started to reemerge again lately, mainly in order to promote his new book, “Decision Points.” Like any ex-president, he is now looking to shore up his legacy. Still, the only nice things I can think to say about his presidency are that the TARP bailouts he enacted were probably necessary, and his mostly unacknowledged commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa was noble, even if much of the effort was wasted on ineffective abstinence-only programs.

Bush and most Republicans of course realize that Americans have not suddenly become fans of the man that shot our budget surplus in the face and tangled up Uncle Sam abroad like a Monday-night episode of “Dancing with the Dictators” (Saddam just couldn’t get that tango down, but boy could he disco!). That’s why Bush agreed to push back his book release until after the midterm elections, in order to spare his colleagues any inconvenient reminders to the public why they voted out the Republicans in the first place.

To his credit, Bush seems to have actually reflected on his presidency a little bit, even admitting to a couple mistakes – a big step for “The Decider.” Unfortunately, these mistakes are limited to the “Mission Accomplished” banner and the photo of him looking over Katrina-ravaged New Orleans: basically both PR stunts that should’ve been executed more thoughtfully. Unlike President Bush, I wish some of his policies had been executed more thoughtfully as well.

It is for these reasons that I have mixed feelings about Bush’s reemergence. A lot of conservatives, including Bush, seem to think that it’s only a matter of time before history judges him one of the best presidents in modern times. Although they have distanced themselves from his name and image, there they are, fighting to extend his ineffective tax cuts and pushing torture like it’s as American as apple pie. The tacit belief, it seems, is that anytime now the Republican leadership will be able nudge John Q. Public in the arm and say, “Hey, remember Bush? He wasn’t so bad, right?” and together they will be able to laugh about the good ol’ times, invading Iraq and keeping America safe before this whole Obama thing.

I am disgusted that anyone would think we have that short a memory, or that we could misjudge such blatant failures as those that Bush produced. Still, Bush has been mercifully quiet for a long time, unlike his friends Cheney and Rove. He has said that Jimmy Carter’s repeated vocal criticisms made his life miserable, and that he wouldn’t wish the same on any future president. For that I respect him. Jimmy Carter broke the ex-presdents’ code of respectful silence toward successors, and it is laudable of Bush to choose to restore it, though I’m sure there is plenty he could say about the Obama administration. Add to that the extraordinary job the Bush administration did cooperating with the Obama transition team, and it may be that the most effective part of George W. Bush’s presidency was his leaving it.

So it is with that in mind that I remain mixed about Bush’s foray back into the public eye. On the one hand, I cannot consider the Bush presidency anything other than what it was: a miserable failure. On the other hand, I have developed a begrudging respect for the man in the way that he has gracefully exited an ungraceful performance. I feel compelled to respect a former president, regardless of my opinion of his legacy, and since he appears to be extending the same courtesy to his successor, at least for now, I figure the least I can do is offer him a modicum of respect.

In other news, it looks like Pee-Wee Herman is trying to make a comeback as well…

  1. Jameela
    November 29th, 2010 at 14:46 | #1

    Well, in response to your blog title…no, i did not miss bush. I think it was a smart move for him to stay low after he finished his last term, and honestly I probably could’ve gone longer without seeing his face and being reminded of the misery of those 8 years. However, I will say that it does appear that he has reflected (a little bit) about his presidency, and I respect him for coming out and talking about SOME of his mistakes. However, he did leave a little bit to be desired, and I wish he would’ve apologized for a few things. But like he said, apologizing would be admitting that he did something wrong, and he doesn’t believe that he did.

    Yay for him not talking smack about President Obama. At least he’s done something right!

  2. Jameela
    November 29th, 2010 at 14:47 | #2

    oh, and congratulations to pee wee herman…i think

  3. Norm Brisson
    March 8th, 2011 at 00:16 | #3

    At my age, I remember 11 presidencies well. Bush was comparable to Richard Nixon in the damage caused during his presidency. Nixon’s damage was more internal to the U.S. while the damage Bush wrought has been international. However, when we talk about giving him credit, he should be recognized for his designation of the world’s largest protected marine area around the Hawaiian islands.

  4. David Brisson
    March 21st, 2011 at 01:09 | #4

    @Norm Brisson
    You know, I never heard of the Hawaiian protected marine area and it wasn’t something I would have associated with a Bush presidency, but there it is:

    “President George W. Bush designated the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a U.S. national monument. The nearly California- size stretch of ocean and islands will be the world’s largest marine sanctuary.” -National Geographic News (June 2006)

    Glad to be able to say Bush Jr. wasn’t a complete failure, even if I still consider his presidency a miserable failure. At the same time, it’s sad that I need help from friends and family to think of a handful of nice things to say about it.

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