He is the one who ended his presidency with the lowest approval rating in history since polls were recorded 70 years ago, at 22%. 73% disapproved of him. Even the much-maligned Lyndon Johnson, hounded by the Vietnam War, finished well ahead of him at 49%.
It is just speculation if Bush finished ahead of the pitiful Herbert Hoover who was bashed by the Great Depression. Maybe it is his vice-president Cheney who is in league with Hoover at 13% final approval rating.
Truman finished next worse to Bush jnr but his 32% is significantly ahead. He was bogged by the Korean War and other foreign troubles. And to think that when he left office the US economy then has no great competitor.
Carter is next worse at 44%. He was dogged by the American hostage crisis in Iran and by perceived incompetence (same as Bush jnr). But that Iran crisis pales in comparison to Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. And Carter left no real crisis.
So what are the lessons of history? One, bad foreign entanglements are not liked by the American public, whatever the rationale (Nobody said then that getting into Korea was wrong; it was just Truman was drawn into a stalemate). Two, don’t bequeth them with crisis. And Bush jnr left generous portions of these to his citizenry. Even his rationale for getting into Iraq and Afghanistan doesn’t wash well with the American public. Is he now praying on his knees for a miracle?
Hoover was shunned by Washington, D.C. and by its politicians long after he retired. It is thought nobody wants to be besmirched by his legacy of crisis. Until Truman called him up to advice him on German rehabilitation, which is Truman’s expertise before. But, in general, he is not remembered well up to this day.
Except for Kennedy nobody paid much attention to Truman after he left office. His reputation only recently got refurbishing when it was realized he helped won the Cold War. Is Bush jnr praying for this salvation?
I don’t think the US will win its so-called war on terror by utilizing Bush’s ways. And I don’t think any future president will be calling on him for advice. At least Truman had solid credentials in rehabilitation.
Will he be forgotten soon like Hoover and Truman? Well, like it or not, probably no. He was born with practically a political silver spoon in the mold of Preston Bush and George snr. This political dynasty will surely work overtime to try to burnish Bush jnr’s soiled legacy. But again, I say, history is not on his side. And, anyway, the American public and political establishment are not that gullible either.
[Image credit:CBS news]