One Look at the Bush Legacy

by Ryan on June 22, 2008

in Election 2008,Media Bias,Politics,Russia,The Iraq Front,War on Terror

Finally a journalist who has some sense of historical perspective beyond the contemporary headlines!  Andrew Roberts wrote this article* comparing George W. Bush to another heavily maligned US president in his day, Harry S Truman.

I think the comparison may stand in historical perspective.  Harry Truman was deeply disliked by the American people in 1952, blamed for an unpopular war, and navigating through a tough economic transition after World War II.  Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Truman was still viewed poorly: aside from the disastrous Korean stalemate, his “Fair Deal” fell flat, Congress kept flipping from Dem to Republican on him, Truman’s administration was constantly dogged for having real communist spies all over it, etc.  But no one remembers much of that through the lens of history, since the basic tenants of Truman’s Cold War policies were used by all subsequent administrations in a truly effective way until 1991.

Today, he’s viewed by members of both parties as a model President, even in the top five to some experts and certainly in the top 10 to others!  Even She Who Must Not Be Named once said that we need another Harry Truman — one who will make good decisions in the face of tough choices or being unpopular. 

In a sense, we do in George W. Bush.  As Roberts’ article explains, a President is usually remembered in history for one or two things.  In 2030, Bush will not be remembered for Valerie Plame or Katrina or the “recession.”  Once the contemporary politics has moved on, he’ll most likely be remembered for Iraq, Afghanistan, and for keeping America safe for the last 7 1/2 years of his Administration following 9/11.  Or at least Bush hopes so.

Pic from MIT.

* — Roberts, writing for a British paper, mixes up Warren Harding with Herbert Hoover initially.  As an historian this kind of bothers me, but his larger point still stands (plus he’s quoting from a left-wing news source, and you know loosely the Left uses history!)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben Hoffman June 22, 2008 at 10:19 am

Geeeee, that’s great! Only one major attack on U.S. soil during his administration! Bush will be remembered as a war profiteer.


JollyRoger June 22, 2008 at 11:37 am

Actually, there are a few small differences between Bush and Truman.

-Truman didn’t lie to get us into Korea, nor did he start that war; Kim Il Sung did that. I know the standard winger reaction is to say that Bush didn’t lie, but the evidence is overwhelming that he’s either a liar or an idiot. Take your pick.

-Truman didn’t rotate wounded, beat up, and suffering soldiers into Korea over and over again. Truman also didn’t ladle out tax givebacks to the rich while he fought the Korean War, meaning the dollar didn’t fall apart as it has because of Bush’s constant borrowing.

-Truman didn’t preside over a wholescale implosion of the US economy, so he isn’t remembered for it. Bush, on the other hand, is presiding over what is shaping up to be a Hoover-style disaster, brought on by his needless war and his endless borrowing. People will remember Bush’s economy for generations to come; the people living in tent cities affectionately known as “Shruburbs” are already enjoying it.


Ryan June 22, 2008 at 3:22 pm

All that would be true… if it were true.

–Bush didn’t lie to get us into Iraq. There is a difference betwen lying and being wrong. I learned that difference in elementary school. It’s an argument we’ve dealt with exhaustively on this site in the past.

–Truman asked Congress for a draft and got one. I suppose you think that’s better than an all-volunteer military force.

–5.5% unemployment and slow but measurable economic growth ain’t great, but can hardly be considered “Hoover-style.” Hoover left office with over 20% unemployment that peaked in 1933 at 24.9% under FDR. Unemployment has been in single digits since the 1980s. Bush has maintained these historically low unemployment rates under his tenure. Again, not very Hoover-style in that area. America still has the richest poor people on earth.

There are plenty of accurate and non-emotional point with which to hit Bush over the head (loose borders, all those illegals, the inability to veto a spending bill, DHS and FEMA, early Iraq, lack of articulation on big issues after elections, etc.), but Andrew Roberts says (and I agree) that these contemporary criticisms of Bush are probably not going to last too long after he leaves office. His foreign policy may end up being a bright spot.

If we become an Obama-Nation this year, Obama’s going to have to do what he can won’t be able to blame Bush by 2012. Four NJ Governors have tried to blame Christine Todd Whitman for every bad decision they made while in office, but it doesn’t pass the smell test. Hoover didn’t cause the Depression, and the New Deal didn’t get us out of it — they were judged by how they handled it, and were it not for World War II, FDR wouldn’t have a memorial nor be on the dime.


Tim Weaver June 25, 2008 at 3:18 pm

There are plenty of rational, factual reasons to believe that Bush is the most destructive president at least since Nixon, but if you’re gullible enough to think that he didn’t lie about Iraq, then I don’t think you’ll ever see it.


Mike June 25, 2008 at 5:23 pm

There are two elements to lying:

1. intentionally

2. making a misstatement of fact.

Number 2 is debatable. We did not find as many WMDs as we thought were there, but Saddam did not prove he destroyed them as required under the cease fire.

As for Number 1, every piece of evidence pointed to Saddam having WMDs. Intelligence organizations around the world, our own, and even the UN claimed WMDs were there. A reasonable person in the President’s position would have believed that to be true. Heck, even the Nation magazine thought they were there.

I have some suggestions. First, pick up a dictionary and look up the word “lie.” Second, pick up any news items from circa 2002 and see what the world thought at the time. Third, go back to the dictionary and look up the word “gullible.” Fourth, look in a mirror.


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