Given life under Obama, more Americans already feeling better about Bush
By Andrew Malcolm
Fifty-one months of an Obama presidency seem like an eternity of speeches, photo ops, fundraisers, soaring debt, stagnant job growth, blame games and did we mention speeches?
In historical context, however, it’s the snap of a finger. Which makes it somewhat surprising that already Americans are quietly rehabilitating President George W. Bush’s image in their own minds. This despite Bush’s virtual disappearance from the political scene since Jan. 20, 2009, save for a brief promotion tour for his book, “Decision Points.”
You’re about to hear a whole lot more about Bush, at least briefly, with Thursday’s dedication of his presidential library at Laura Bush’s alma mater, Southern Methodist University in Dallas. By custom, all former presidents will attend.
President Obama will also be there, although he’s blamed Republican Bush for just about everything that’s gone wrong during these long 1,554 days, except Obama’s miserable NCAA tournament brackets. First, of course, to make the trip worthwhile, Democrat Obama will do another political fundraiser in Dallas.
Remember those iconic billboards that went up during the great ObamaCare legislative con? A smiling Bush waving with the caption, “Miss Me Yet?” Well, apparently more people do. ABC News and the Washington Post came out early this morning with a new poll timed to the library dedication.
When Bush left office after eight tumultuous years, including 9/11 and the Iraq War, 66% of adult Americans disapproved of him, twice as many as approved. The new findings: His disapproval has dropped to just half, while his approval has increased to almost half (47%).
This essentially ties the Texan with the Chicagoan, whose public approval has plummeted from 67% on Day One, when he had yet to break a single promise. Remember Obama’s first day, the big ceremonial Executive Order signing to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center within 365 days? Well, never mind.
As Gary Langer points out, poll improvements four to five years after leaving the White House are not unprecedented. Bush’s father improved 18 points, but Bill Clinton dropped four points.
The public still thinks negatively about Bush 43 in two major areas: the economy and Iraq War. Although even there, feelings have mellowed. It’s now 53% disapproval-43% approval on the economy, versus 73% disapproval-24% approval way back when.
On the war, Bush was 65% disapproval-33% approval in 2008. Now, that’s improved to 57% disapproval-40% approval.
The poll finds Bush’s approval has gained across a broad ideological front of Americans–up 11 points among independents, 16 points among Republicans and 19 points among Democrats. That’s right, up 19 points among Obama’s Democrats.
Now, what could possibly explain that, do you suppose?