As voters headed to the polls yesterday to decide how many allies the current president will have in Congress come January, some have started to contemplate the reputation of his predecessor. Former President George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points will be released next week, leading the Daily Beast’s Bryan Curtis to take a look at ex-Bush personnel’s efforts to rehabilitate their boss:
[T]o hear Bushies tell it, a number of things have changed since then that might sway America. One, Barack Obama is now the one with the slumping ratings. “People respect the fact that [Bush has] stayed off the radar screen and out of President Obama’s business,” said Mark McKinnon, a former advisor. “They have also watched Obama come down to earth and know that even Superman would have a tough time being president these days.” An October CNN poll found Obama and Bush nearly tied—47 percent to 45 percent, respectively—on the question of who has been a better president.
Indeed, when you blame the status quo predominantly on one guy and promise that your election will be remembered as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” and things don’t get better after all, it’s gonna occur to people that maybe America’s problems can’t be reduced to a single scapegoat after all.
Second, the Bushies say that despite his campaign promises, Obama’s administration has not fully repudiated Bush, on issues from the closing of Guantanamo Bay to military tribunals. That has made Bush’s positions look better in retrospect. “President Obama has started out in a different place, very different than President Bush,” Gutierrez said. “As he has faced reality, reality has pushed him into the Bush position.” Tuesday’s results, Perino suggested, would finally show the Democrats that Bush-bashing, their favorite sport in the last two election cycles, was obsolete. So maybe America would stop hearing a chorus of negativity about W.
There may be something to this—someone’s bound to notice when you continue numerous policies you once pledged to end—but I’m not inclined to think it’s as big a factor in Bush’s image rehabilitation, because Gitmo and military tribunals weren’t huge factors in Bush’s declining popularity to begin with.