With the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas, some are starting to take a second look at the 43rd president of the United States. The re-evaluation depends on who is doing it.
Former staffers laud the former president
Understandably, many of the people who worked for Bush have fond memories of their former boss. Dana Perino, now an analyst at Fox News but then a White House press secretary, offers a series of personal vignettes that she feels reveals the character of the man. Karl Rove, who also works for Fox News and was Bush's chief political adviser, suggests that the former president's moral clarity defined his administration. He mentions 9/11, the effort to combat AIDS in Africa, the attempt to reform social security and the Iraq War as accomplishments in his favor.
A more jaundiced view from the media
Jill Lawrence, writing for the National Journal, suggests that most historians still regard the Bush administration as a failure with two-thirds maintaining that he has little chance of improving that evaluation. However, she does admit that there is precedence for presidents, initially thought ill of, getting a good second look as the passage of time provides a certain perspective. Both Truman and Eisenhower are now thought to have been, on the whole, pretty good presidents, something they were not when they left office.
Bush takes a look at himself
Bush himself took a candid look at his own administration in his memoir "Decision Points," in which he eschewed the usual approach to such accounts. He related the most important decisions of his life, most of which took place during his presidency, and evaluated not only the successes, but failures and attempted to explain the reasons why.
The people take a second look
The Christian Science Monitor relates that a Washington Post/ABC News Poll now suggests that 47 percent of the American people approve of how President Bush performed during his eight years in office, remarkable when one considers that he left office with a 23 percent approval rating. One explanation may be that, Katrina and Iraq aside, Bush rallied the nation after 9/11 and mostly presided over a period of relative prosperity. Whatever the media and the rest of the chattering class have to say, many people seem to be responding to the famous poster that shows a smiling Bush with a caption that reads, "Miss me yet?" with a decided "yes."
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
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