Some reporters warned that Reagan courted nuclear war and would tank the economy. He certainly was not like the gentleman Republican and moderate ex-President
But by 1989, the media was fond of a new adjective: "Reaganesque." Reagan in retirement and without power was seen as a senior statesman.
Not so for his once centrist and better-liked vice president,
The transformations had already started in Reagan's last year as president. In 1987,
"Wimp" was an odd take on someone who by age 20 had flown dangerous fighter missions in World War II, and had been shot down and nearly killed. Nonetheless, the cover story hyped "a perception that [Bush] isn't strong enough or tough enough for the challenges of the
Once elected president, Bush was variously trashed by the media as a warmonger, a whiny nerd and a Reagan wannabe. After he lost re-election bid to
But once Clinton's two terms were over and Bush's son,
During the tenure of Democratic President
Then, a strange -- or rather, predictable -- metamorphosis followed in 2016.
Eight years after Bush had left office -- and had kept professionally quiet during the Obama years -- he (like Ford, Reagan and his father) was wondrously rehabilitated by the media.
The supposedly failed Bush presidency was reinvented by journalists to contrast positively with
The media now praised the former president as a moderate. Bush -- whom they had once dubbed a war criminal, racist and incompetent -- became a bipartisan wise man in retirement on his
Critics no longer made fun of
Why does the media despise a sitting Republican president and only ex post facto reinvent him as underappreciated?
A cynic would suggest it is not because of any fair analysis of comparative presidential achievement. Instead, the skit goes like this:
Once a Republican president loses an election or retires after two terms -- and is followed by a liberal Democrat -- his reputation hits bottom. But once a new Republican president enters office, the prior and now-powerless Republican ex-president is airbrushed into a model of statesmanship to contrast the ogre currently in the
Republican presidencies are seen on a downward spiral of always becoming worse -- by always redefining formerly despised presidents as at least better than their monstrous successors.
When a conservative president has the power to enact a conservative agenda, he is a media demon compared with his now-saintly Republican predecessors. Of course, in retirement, they have no power to do anything.
Such reinvention insidiously works to keep former Republican presidents quiet.
Former Democratic presidents
Their retired Republican counterparts, such as Ford, Reagan and the two Bushes, each assumed a quiet, nonpartisan senior statesman role. That way, they eventually saw their presidencies mysteriously reassessed as better than the supposedly disastrous Republican administration in power at the time.
The public should grow wise to the progressive media's formula: Once-awful
And the more retired Republican presidents stay quiet and nonpartisan, the faster their rehabilitation will be.