Jewish World Review Sept. 16, 2010 8 Tishrei, 5771
Rethinking George Bush?
By Victor Davis Hanson
But suddenly Bush seems OK. Last week, the president did the unthinkable: He praised Bush for his past efforts to reach out to Muslims. Vice President
Even liberal pundits have now called on Bush to help Obama diffuse rising tensions over the so-called Ground Zero mosque and
What's going on?
For one thing, recent polls show an astounding rebound in the former president's favorability -- to the extent that in the bellwether state of
Then there are the growing comparisons with Bush's supposed past transgressions. Compared to Obama, they're starting to look like traffic tickets now. Take the economy and the war on terror. Americans were angry at the Bush-era deficits. But they look small after Obama trumped them in less than two years.
For six years of the Bush administration, Americans enjoyed a strong economy. So far, there hasn't been a similar month under Obama. Bush had a one-time
If Hurricane Katrina showed government ineptness, so did the recent BP oil spill. Maybe such problems in the Gulf were neither Bush nor Obama's fault alone, but are better attributed to the inept federal bureaucracy itself -- or to freak weather and human laxity.
On the war on terror, Obama has dropped all the old campaign venom. Bush's
In comparison to Obama and his gaffes, Bush no longer seems the singular clod whom his opponents endlessly ridiculed. The supposedly mellifluent Obama relies on the teleprompter as if it were his umbilical cord. His occasional word mangling (he pronounced "corpsman" as "corpse-man") and weird outbursts (he recently complained that opponents "talk about me like a dog") remind us that the pressures of the presidency can make a leader sometimes seem silly.
Bush now seems cool because he has played it cool. The more Obama and Biden have trashed him, the more silent and thus magnanimous he appears. Bush's post-presidency is not like that of
Criticism of Bush got out of hand the last few years of his term. Writing novels or making documentaries about killing the president, or libeling him as a Nazi, is not the sort of politics that we want continued during the Obama years. So it makes sense before the general election to halt the endless blame-gaming, before what goes around comes around.
The frenzy of Bush hatred and Obama worship that crested in the summer of 2008 is over. We now better remember the Bush at Ground Zero with a megaphone and his arm around a fireman than the Texan who pronounced "nuclear" as "nucular." Meanwhile, hope-and-change now seems to offer little hope and less change.
America woke up from its 2008 trance and is concluding that Bush was never as bad, and Obama never as good, as advertised.
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Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
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