The Presidency That Republicans Would Rather Forget

The Republican candidates for President have apparently forgotten that this guy was their party's nominee twice.

During the past year of campaigning by the Republican candidates for President, there have been plenty of references to Republican Presidents of the past like Ronald Reagan, Calvin Coolidge,  and even Teddy Roosevelt (mostly by Gingrich) on the Republican campaign trial, but almost nobody has made reference to or even uttered the name George W. Bush:

PERRY, Iowa — A funny thing happened recently in the presidential campaign in Iowa: The last Republican president’s name actually surfaced.

“We’ve had, in the past, a couple of presidents from Texas that said they weren’t interested in wars … like George W. Bush,” a voter said to Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who has been sharply critical of U.S. military entanglements overseas. “My question is: How can we trust another Texan?”

It was an odd, almost discordant moment in a GOP contest where Bush, a two-term president who left office just three years ago, has gone all but unmentioned. While the candidates routinely lionize Ronald Reagan and blame President Barack Obama for the nation’s economic woes, none has been eager to embrace the Bush legacy of gaping budget deficits, two wars and record low approval ratings — or blame him for the country’s troubles either.

“Republicans talk a lot about losing their way during the last decade, and when they do they’re talking about the Bush years,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont-McKenna College. “For Republicans, the Bush administration has become the ‘yadda yadda yadda’ period of American history.”

The eight-year Bush presidency has merited no more than a fleeting reference in televised debates and interviews. When it does surface it’s often a point of criticism, as when former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told CNN on Sunday that he regretted voting for the No Child Left Behind education law Bush championed.

The former president himself has been all but invisible since leaving office in 2009 with a Gallup approval rating of just 34 percent. His predecessor, Democrat Bill Clinton, had a 66 percent approval rating in early 2001 when he stepped down after two terms marred by a sex scandal and impeachment.

In a presidential contest dominated by concerns over the weak economy, government spending and the $15 trillion federal debt, the Republican candidates have been loath to acknowledge the extent to which Bush administration policies contributed to those problems. Republicans also controlled Congress for six of the eight years Bush was in the White House, clearing the way for many of his policies to be enacted.

There is no question that Obama’s policies, including the federal stimulus program and the auto industry bailout, have swollen the deficit and deepened the debt. And three years into his presidency, Obama often falls back on complaints about the bad situation he inherited when seeking to defend his own economic performance.

This isn’t entirely surprising, of course. President Bush left office with one of the lowest job approval ratings in recent memory amid the worst recession the nation had suffered through in at least a generation. While the nation was involved in trying to pick a new President, Bush was forced to preside over a financial collapse that threatened to undermine not just the economy but also confidence in the financial system itself. In fact, it was not until recently that polls started to show the public placing at least an equal amount of blame for the state of the economy on President Obama as they do on former President Bush. Internationally, his foreign policy successes in the War on Terror has been eclipsed to some extent by President Obama’s own successes, most notably the killing of Osama bin Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki. Bush’s foreign policy failures, meanwhile, are contrasted with the recently concluded withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, which was heavily supported by the American public even while being criticized by most of the Republican candidates for President. The fact that Obama has succeeded internationally largely by continuing the policies of the Bush Administration doesn’t seem to have enhanced public opinion regarding Bush himself.

While George W. Bush still isn’t very well regarded by Americans as a whole, it does seem that Republicans continue to have a high opinion of him, but the election has revealed the truth about the Bush years. In fact, judging from the standards of the Tea Party George W. Bush was a pretty atrocious President:

Taking office in 2001 with a balanced federal budget and a surplus, Bush quickly pushed through sweeping tax cuts that were not offset by spending cuts. The tax cuts have cost about $1.8 trillion, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The Bush tax cuts were set to expire after 10 years, but Obama allowed them to remain in place temporarily in exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks never were budgeted and have cost taxpayers about $1.4 trillion so far. Obama ordered the last troops out of Iraq in December, but the Afghanistan conflict will extend into 2014.

Bush signed legislation in 2003 enacting a prescription drug benefit as part of Medicare, the government health care plan for seniors — a huge entitlement program projected to cost as much as $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program, the bank bailout program widely loathed by many conservatives, was another Bush-era program. Congress authorized nearly $700 billion for the program at the recommendation of Bush’s treasury secretary, former Goldman Sachs executive Henry Paulson, in response to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent financial crisis in the fall of 2008. As a presidential candidate, Obama supported the TARP bailout, as did his GOP rival, Sen. John McCain.

To be sure, today’s GOP candidates occasionally acknowledge that not all was perfect pre-Obama.

“The reason we find ourselves in the problem today is because we had Republicans and Democrats — you couldn’t tell the difference in the way they were spending,” Rick Perry told a campaign audience in Cedar Rapids.

Of course this is criticism you almost never heard from Republicans during the time that Bush was in the White House and the Republicans controlled Congress. In fact there were only 19 Republicans in the House who voted against Medicare Part D, and for the most part even the most fiscally conservative of Republican loyalists were silent during the Bush era, even though it was fairly apparent what was going on. As The Cato Institute’s David Boaz pointed out after Bush left office this is the President who:

  • expanded federal spending by more than a trillion dollars a year, before his disastrous last hundred days
  • federalized education
  • laid out “a smorgasbord of handouts and subsidies for virtually every energy lobby in Washington.”
  • protected the steel, agriculture, and textile industries from foreign competition
  • backed farm bills with lavish subsidies for producers
  • created the biggest new entitlement since Lyndon Johnson
  • bailed out Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, and dozens of other banks
  • provided government support for mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and other consumer debt, and
  • bailed out Chrysler and General Motors in direct defiance of Congress’s refusal to do so

An intellectual honest fiscal conservative would have been screaming at the top of their lungs during the Bush years, and while some of them were the truth of the matter is that most Republicans gave George W. Bush a pass and continue to do so. The candidates desire to distance themselves from him is merely a recognition of the fact that the Bush years remain an albatross around the neck of the Republican Party.

Democrats recognize it too. That’s why we can expect to see the 2012 campaign to include an effort by the GOP to tie whoever the Republican nominee is to what they continue to call “the failed policies of the Bush Administration.” They wouldn’t use this kind of attack if it didn’t poll well, and it definitely does poll well. The Obama Campaign is likely to try to frame the election as a choice between going forward with Barack Obama or going backward to the Bush years with the Republicans. Will it work?  I suppose it depends on the state of the economy. If things are improving then the argument that we don’t want to return to the past could resonate quite well. If the economy tanks again in 2012, whether due to another European crisis or for some other reason, then it probably won’t. In either case, though, the GOP cannot escape the legacy of the Bush years by ignoring them completely. Instead, they need to repudiate them and figure out how not to repeat them.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Presidency, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James says:

    An intellectual honest fiscal conservative [..]

    I think you mean to say “a Democrat” here Doug.

  2. James,

    And the Democrats who were speaking out about massive increases in spending would be residents of which alternative universe?

  3. merl says:

    That guy was forgotten the minute Obama was sworn in.

  4. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: First, spending isn’t the issue right now; it’s revenues. Second, the biggest drivers of the deficient are Bush-era polices. Third, the Affordable Care Act is the cornerstone to actually attacking the biggest long-term driver of the federal budget deficient; healthcare costs.

  5. Ortho says:

    Of course this is criticism you almost never heard from Republicans during the time that Bush was in the White House and the Republicans controlled Congress.

    What an unmitigated load of shit, Doug.

  6. @James:

    See, like I said, Democrats don’t care about cutting spending. They just want to increase taxes.

    And if you believe the PPACA is actually going to reduce health care spending in the long term, you are deluding yourself.

  7. @Ortho:

    Links please showing me all the Republican outrage at the outrageous Bush Administration and its cohorts on Capitol Hill

  8. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You can keep up your political voodoo “analysis” about how “neither parties are innocent” but your just playing a slight of hand game. Any problems that are the product of a Republican administration or governance, you just conveniently shift to the Democrats inability to solve the problem, or prevent the policies from being enacted.

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    Foreign Policy will be a strong point for Obama if the Republican candidate whines about the Iraq withdrawal, the downsizing of the Afghanistan mis-adventure and beating Iran war drums.

  10. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    See, like I said, Democrats don’t care about cutting spending. They just want to increase taxes.

    Well, taxes are historically low. At any rate, if you’re orientation on the nuances between the two parties is a glib sentence that’s fit for an 8th grade reading level, I’m not particularly sold on the validity of your analysis.

    And if you believe the PPACA is actually going to reduce health care spending in the long term, you are deluding yourself.

    I’m not particulars interested in reviewing the basics of healthcare economics and policy. Suffice to say, many people who do have a good grasp on the subject disagree with you, namely the CBO.

  11. Moosebreath says:

    Doug,

    “And the Democrats who were speaking out about massive increases in spending would be residents of which alternative universe?”

    Nice slight of hand. Cutting spending is not, by itself, being fiscally conservative. Indeed, raising spending, but raising taxes by more than the increase to spending is being fiscally conservative. Unless you’re the sort of “fiscal conservative” whose real goal is to shrink the government until it can be drowned in a bathtub.

  12. Moosebreath says:

    And note that it’s not only Bush the Younger who is not regarded favorably by current Republicans. It’s also Bush the Elder, Ford, Nixon and Eisenhower. In other words, all except Reagan, and they have a distorted memory of Reagan (as exemplified by the Cantor interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday).

  13. ponce says:

    An intellectual honest fiscal conservative

    Rarer than a unicorn.

  14. legion says:

    @Moosebreath: Bingo – Republicans are engaging in a wholesale redefinition of Presidential history since the Nixon era. Anyone whose legacy they can’t just blatantly lie about (Reagan) they simply ignore (Bush I & II) until whatever doctrine they’re pushing this week is “supported” by the history they’ve created.

    “My question is: How can we trust another TexanRepublican?”

    FTFY.

  15. Stan says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And if you believe the PPACA is actually going to reduce health care spending in the long term, you are deluding yourself.

    Is the Congressional Budget Office that bad? Or did I misinterpret what they said about the budgetary implications of the PPACA?

  16. Hey Norm says:

    Funny, just off the top of my head…
    I remember distinctly a VP debate in which John Edwards called out Dick Cheney on the money being spent on the war in Iraq…and of course Cheney called him a liar. We all know Cheney is full of crap…and Doug Mataconis…well you can make your own decision…
    In addition…Medicare Part D was passed pretty much on party lines…as were the Bush Tax Cuts, which required Cheney to render the tie-breaker.
    These three items are the biggest drivers of our debt going forward…so I guess Democrats clearly live in an Alternate Universe from Doug…who also believes in invisible hands and free-markets…and probably Unicorns…

  17. Hey Norm says:

    “…And if you believe the PPACA is actually going to reduce health care spending in the long term, you are deluding yourself…”

    Let’s see…who should I listen to…the CBO…or Mataconis…hmmm…

  18. Wayne says:

    Go back and look at what many of the conservative commentators post on OTB back in the Bush years. Plenty of examples of us protesting against the out of control spending and needing to do actual cuts.

    We have seen the same B.S. accusation that conservative didn’t mind it when Bush did it. I have posted refuted facts in many of those threads to show that is false. I know many here have seen it but like many liberal, ignore anything that doesn’t fit their agenda.

    Their excuse ends up “will maybe some did but not the leaders”. Show them many leaders and pundits like Congressman,Hannity and Rush who did, then they claim that what they meant by “leaders” were leaders within the Bush administration. What B.S.

    What an bunch of intellectually dishonest people . Usually the same ones who tried to rewrite history and claimed Reagan was “for” big tax increases because he sign off on compromises to raise taxes that the Democrats fought to put in and Reagan fought against. .

  19. ponce says:

    We have seen the same B.S. accusation that conservative didn’t mind it when Bush did it. I have posted refuted facts in many of those threads to show that is false.

    I think he means conservative who matter.

    Regular conservatives are just wankers who whine about everything, so no points there. They still voted for Bush even after they knew what a budget buster he was.

  20. Hey Norm says:

    And furthermore…
    During the 2004 campaign Gephardt and Dean both advocated repealing both Bush cuts…both of which had to be passed by reconciliation by the way…
    The implication that Democrats di not complain about the spending is just unfounded nonsense. But I’ve grown to expect it.

  21. James says:

    @Wayne:

    Go back and look at what many of the conservative commentators post on OTB back in the Bush years.

    The problem isn’t the support or lack of support Bush had from OTB commentators. It’s the elected Representatives and Senators, with R’s next to their names, who voted for the Bush-era polices that gave them force of law in the first place.

    We have seen the same B.S. accusation that conservative didn’t mind it when Bush did it.

    Well, if conservatives were so displeased with the latter Bush, why did they twice vote for the man?

  22. @Hey Norm:

    How many CBO 10 year forecasts have actually turned out to be correct ten years later?

  23. Hey Norm says:

    The point missed in the original post is that, while Republicans aren’t saying Bush’s name, they are certainly following in his footsteps. Supply-side economics. Irresponsible foreign policy – bomb Iran. Make life harder for the middle-class – repeal the PPACA. Help out your cronies – De-Regulate. Zebras can’t change their stripes.

  24. Hey Norm says:

    Dude…how many of yours have? Don’t you have a drum-circle post to write?

  25. Norm,

    I’m not the one relying on a forecast of what the world is going to be like in ten years that is likely to be invalid long before we get to the ten year point.

  26. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Are you really going to try and couch you argument that the CBO is wrong about the Affordable Care Act in the premise that the very act that the CBO’s projections (and thus all projections) are inherently invalid?

  27. @James:

    Make your case that there is a reason to trust a ten year projection from any entity that relies primarily on data provided by the advocates of the legislation in question.

  28. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I just wrote a longish comment that’s been caught in the spam filter. I suspect I put in too many links.

  29. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Make your case that there is a reason to trust a ten year projection […]

    If you really wish to head down into this epistemological rabbit hole, you won’t find any indictment against the Affordable Care Act, only evidence of you’re own insistence on sophistry over facts.

    At any rate, from the CBO (which I’ve already linked):

    Therefore, CBO and JCT effectively estimated in February that PPACA and the health-related provisions of the Reconciliation Act will produce a net decrease in federal deficits of $210 billion over the 2012–2021 period as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues. The projected net reduction in deficits is the difference between $813 billion in projected additional revenues and $604 billion in projected additional outlays (p 3)

  30. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Here’s the Commonwealth Fund’s Nov 2011 survey of heathcare policy experts:

    More than three of four respondents think strategies included in the Affordable Care Act are important for slowing the growth of health spending, including moving toward more efficient models of care delivery (95%), shifting from fee-for-service reimbursement to bundled forms of payment (84%), and improving health care quality and outcomes (79%).

    Lastly, here’s Kaiser Heath New’s ACA factsheet:

    Addressing the long-term drivers of Medicare cost growth: The President’s framework would strengthen the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the Affordable Care Act. The IPAB has been highlighted by economists and health policy experts as a critical contributor to Medicare’s solvency and sound operations. Under the Affordable Care Act, IPAB analyzes the drivers of excessive and unnecessary Medicare cost growth. When Medicare growth per beneficiary exceeds growth in nominal GDP per capita plus 1 percent, IPAB recommends to Congress policies to reduce the rate of growth to meet that target, while not harming beneficiaries’ access to needed services. Congress must consider IPAB’s recommendations or, if it disagrees, enact policies that achieve equivalent savings. If neither acts, then the Secretary of Health and Human Services would have to develop and implement a proposal to achieve the savings target.

    Bonus question: Which major political party is attempting to eradicate the IPAB by refusing a nominee for position of Director even come up for a vote?

  31. James,

    I know what the CBO said, I read the forecast when it came out. That isn’t the question I asked, though

  32. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Here’s the Commonwealth Fund’s Nov 2011 survey of heathcare policy experts:

    More than three of four respondents think strategies included in the Affordable Care Act are important for slowing the growth of health spending, including moving toward more efficient models of care delivery (95%), shifting from fee-for-service reimbursement to bundled forms of payment (84%), and improving health care quality and outcomes (79%).

  33. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: As I said, my comment is getting caught in the spam filter. I’m breaking it up.

    Lastly, here’s Kaiser Heath New’s ACA factsheet:

    Addressing the long-term drivers of Medicare cost growth: The President’s framework would strengthen the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the Affordable Care Act. The IPAB has been highlighted by economists and health policy experts as a critical contributor to Medicare’s solvency and sound operations. Under the Affordable Care Act, IPAB analyzes the drivers of excessive and unnecessary Medicare cost growth. When Medicare growth per beneficiary exceeds growth in nominal GDP per capita plus 1 percent, IPAB recommends to Congress policies to reduce the rate of growth to meet that target, while not harming beneficiaries’ access to needed services. Congress must consider IPAB’s recommendations or, if it disagrees, enact policies that achieve equivalent savings. If neither acts, then the Secretary of Health and Human Services would have to develop and implement a proposal to achieve the savings target.

    Bonus question: Which major political party is attempting to eradicate the IPAB by refusing a nominee for position of Director even come up for a vote?

  34. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: At any rate, if you did read the CBO report, you clearly don’t understand it. Or worse yet; you do, but you’ve decided to ignore the parts that conflict with whatever preconceived notions you’ve made about how health policy and economics is supposed to work.

  35. James says:

    Ha,

    Sorry for all the double posting. Feel free to delete/ignore my redundant comments.

  36. Davebo says:

    Make your case

    Why Doug. You never bother to do so. Unless you feel claiming others are living in an alternative universe constitutes “Making your case”.

    Does that childish crap fly for you in court?

  37. Davebo,

    I’m not the person pointing to a forecast of something that is supposed to happen in ten years claiming that it is any more reliable than any other economic forecast.

  38. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    […] claiming that it is any more reliable than any other economic forecast.

    See, there’s the slight of hand again. You claimed, earlier, that I’d be “deluding myself” that the PPACA is going going “reduce health care spending.” Now, I’ve provided a number of links (and I have many more if you’re that interested) showing that just about every health policy expert, economist and wonk is confidant that the ACA’s cost containment strategies will have an overall net negative impact our long-term budget deficient.

    Now that you’ve realized you’re wrong on the facts, you’ve now attempting to impeach the very act of making long-term budget predictions. Which is it Doug? Does the ACA not reduce the deficient in the long term, or can we just not know what the long-term budget is going to be in the first place? The first question is narrow and reasonably answerable (which I think I’ve done well enough for the purposes of a blog comment thread). The second is an epistemic question that rests more in the semantics of our confidence levels and forecasting tools.

    At some point you’re going to have face that facts are stubborn things; and that if you’re going to be persuasive with your opinions on policy, at some point the rubber needs to meet road.

  39. James,

    Again, I know what the CBO said I am not questioning they said it. I am questioning just how reliable it is. How about you, me, and all those economists meet again in 2024 or so and see where things are rather than relying on guesses?

  40. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’d prefer you concede that you’re simply wrong on the facts of the Affordable Care Act’s impact on the federal budget deficient.

    Short of that, I’d prefer you actually approach my claims instead of constructing a convenient strawman about the unreliability of long-term policy impact projections.

  41. James,

    Again given my doubts about the reliability of long-term economic forecasts to begin with, why should I accede to your demand?

  42. ponce says:

    The Accuracy of CBO’s Past Budget Projections

    Because baseline budget projections are destined to deviate from actual outcomes, assessing their historical accuracy is not a simple matter. Baseline projections are meant to serve as a neutral reference point for evaluating policy changes, so they make no assumptions about future legislation that might alter current budget policies. Of course, new legislation is likely to affect spending and revenues, but the purpose of baseline estimates is not to forecast legislation.

    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=3277&type=0&sequence=6

    2001 CBO projected federal budget surplus for 2011: $899 billion

    Then the Republicans took over…

  43. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Perhaps because you’re concerned more about actual policy outcomes than you are about deploying sophistic arguments to avoid losing face on a blog post?

  44. James,

    You trust the estimate of something that will happen ten years from now. I’m skeptical about its reliability. Apparently, unless I agree with you I’m wrong. Okay then.

  45. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: As I’ve said many times, you’re playing a rhetorical game here. Right now, you simply “skeptical of the reliability” of long-term budget projections. This is a reasonable, if somewhat obstinate point.

    Yet just under three and a half ago, you wrote:

    And if you believe the PPACA is actually going to reduce health care spending in the long term, you are deluding yourself.

    So, if you simply just don’t trust the reliability of long-term budget projections, how can you make any claim on the Affordable Care Act’s long term impact, much less accuse me of being deluded.

    You can’t have it both ways Doug. Either you don’t believe the ACA will have a net negative impact on the federal budget deficient, or you simply can’t many any claims about the ACA’s long-term impact on the federal budget deficient. There’s no way you can make both points simultaneously, unless you’re simply unconcerned with making a cogent argument.

  46. legion says:

    @Doug Mataconis: No Doug; you seem to be taking the position that if the CBO predicts X, and the CBO’s predictions are not reliable (or reliable enough, or perfect, or whatever), then therefore the opposite of X must be true – and that’s bogus logic. Even _if_ the CBO’s predictions aren’t reliable, you’ve given no reason to believe the opposite of what they predict other than “I don’t trust them”. Attacking something your opponents use to support their arguments doesn’t actually make your argument any stronger – it just turns this into a debate about whose authority is more convincing – the CBO or your gut. No offense, Doug, but I know which I trust more…

  47. James,

    I base that statement on the simple fact that every time the government has enacted a new entitlement program it’s costs have ended up exceeding the estimates made at the time of passage. Does that mean I’m sure it will happen? No, but I’d say it’s a fairly good guess.

  48. James says:

    I base that statement on the simple fact that every time the government has enacted a new entitlement program it’s costs have ended up exceeding the estimates made at the time of passage.

    Truthiness – n. a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” or that it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

  49. James,

    I can’t do the research right now but I would point you to the cost estimates made in 65 about Medicare, which proved to be completely wrong withing about 20 years or so.

  50. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: If you want to make the argument that the ACA will not have a net negative effect on the federal budget deficient, you’re free to do so.

    If you want to make the argument that long-term budget projections are folly, you’re free to do that as well.

    But making the claim that “since Medicare exceeded cost projections, the ACA will as well” doesn’t wash. They’re two completely different laws, designed to do two completely different things. Medicare (and to an extent, Medicaid) are legal entitlements to a certain level of health insurance for those 65 and older, which is paid for by a joint federal and state-level fund. The ACA is an attempt to correct the market failures of the US’s current health insurance market, with specific provisions such as exchange market regulations, state-level grants and waivers, and a raft of other possible policy solutions to our rampant healthcare cost inflation trends.

    At any rate, if you’re concerned enough to try and back up some of your claims in actual facts, I am more than happy to look at your findings.

  51. anjin-san says:

    I can’t do the research right now

    When do you ever do the research? Just curious…

  52. Terrye says:

    I don’t want to forget Bush, in fact I miss the man. He was a decent man who had to deal with a lot of difficult issues…as well as a hateful opposition, a hateful media and a lot of back stabbing bloggers and talk radio morons.

  53. Hey Norm says:

    Terrye…
    He allowed 9.11, exploded the debt, gave away trillions to big pharma, stood by during enron…and accepted no personal responsibilty for any of it. That is not a decent man. Do I hate him…not at all. Do I respect him? Not at all.

  54. The fact that Obama has succeeded internationally largely by continuing the policies of the Bush Administration doesn’t seem to have enhanced public opinion regarding Bush himself.

    I know this is OTB liturgy, but it hides far more than it reveals. Consider the Iraq withdrawal. You cite public support for ending the war, but don’t really talk about the subtext. It is an unwinding (too late even in the OTB world) of The Great War On Terror.

    No, this is not “Bush policy,” and the nation is still disengaging from a fling with Neocon romance.

  55. BTW, let’s not forget that Republicans have been pretty thin on budget cuts themselves, even up until now. They’ve been for government shutdown, and gotten really irritated about debt limits and taxes, but cuts?

    The only proposals for cuts that I remember have been political wild-balls, like capping food stamps at pre-recession levels, or slashing Medicare or Social Security. Those weren’t even popular with a majority on the right.

    The Democrats don’t cut, and the Republicans play at cuts. Lolz. Like that makes Republicans the grown-ups.

  56. anjin-san says:

    who had to deal with a lot of difficult issues

    Thats the job you sign up for when you run for President. I don’t shed any tears for GW because it was hard. He is a weak man who allowed himself to be used by others for their own ends. He should have stuck with baseball, he would have been happier, he would probably have been pretty good at it. Certainly the country/world would be better off.

  57. David M says:

    This exposes one of the key differences between Republicans and Democrats. The current GOP doesn’t believe in the idea of budgets and sees no difference between spending and the deficit. Talking to them makes no sense, because budgets do exist and while spending and deficits are related, they most certainly are not synonyms.

  58. Hey Norm says:

    Anjin-San….
    While owning the Rangers he ignored steroid abuse. He was just as un-accountable then.

  59. anjin-san says:

    @HN

    True enough. But if anyone in MLB has been stand up regarding steroid use I missed it.