Sunday, March 19, 2006

How Will Bush Go Down in History?

Bush will go down in history much like Reagan did -- hated in perpetuity by the left and adored by the right. Bush, like Clinton and Reagan, is a lightning rod on both sides of the aisle -- his party loves him (even in tough times, like the entire last year) and the opposition absolutely can't stand him.

Much like Reagan, Bush is seen as the face for his administration and nothing more, and the similarities go on. Reagan was lampooned for his "hands-off managerial style" (or disinterest in actually doing the job he was elected to do). Reagan was seen as intellectually vacuous and overly simplistic. Reagan was plagued with second-term blunders. Reagan drove up federal spending (mainly on the military), and the deficit, to record levels. Reagan's presidency is credited for its foreign policy crusades/triumphs, despite his incoming lack of interest in or prior experience with foreign policy.

In 20 years, people who are now teens and 20s Washington, D.C. operatives will reminisce about the Bush years and credit his administration for their passion for politics. Democrats will still hate Bush and everything he stood for, thinking it impossible that anyone would adore such a bumbling, failed presidency.

Projecting much longer than that is tough. Depending on which direction Iraq and the Arab world are heading in a few years, Bush may be widely credited for his courageous and visionary foreign policy leadership (much like Truman -- thought of as simplistic, inexperienced and hands-off and hated during and just after his presidency, but though of in retrospect as one of the best presidents in history). If his work in the Middle East turns out as it seems it will (rescued only by a more cooperative, rational successor), he will be seen as one of the worst presidents ever -- an incompetent manager who failed his own country and compromised the security of freedom-loving people everywhere.


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