In one of the more interesting end-of-the-decade pieces, E. J. Dionne writes:
I’m afraid that the past 10 years will be seen as a time when the United States badly lost its way by using our military power carelessly, misunderstanding the real challenges to our long-term security, and pursuing domestic policies that constrained our options for the future while needlessly threatening our prosperity.[….]
Bush’s defenders know that Obama’s election represented a popular reaction against the consequences of the 43rd president’s time in office. Because Obama is both the anti-Bush and the leader of the post-Bush cleanup squad, his success would complete the rebuke. So the Bush camp — Karl Rove’s regular contributions to The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages are emblematic — must stay on the attack.
I think this is exactly right, that it’s important for conservatives to make sure that it doesn’t become settled law that Bush was a failure. So I think we will see come kind of concerted effort to rehab Dubya fairly soon, possibly even this year. It will take the usual pattern — a Rasmussen poll showing that Bush is viewed more favorably than Obama, which will then be trumpeted by the Andrew Malcolms of the world, some catchty phrase that Gerson and Krauthammer and Brooks can repeat in unison.
It will be interesting to see how the effort goes. It’s possible that this year is too soon for it to succeed.
Dontcha know DougJ that Iraq is a giant success?! When we leave there they’ll be sad to see their liberators go.
The problem with this approach is that it would allow the Dems to link up current GOP candidates to 43.
43 is the sink hole of politics. People will stay away from him on a personal level. “True conservatism” will be mantra of the next few years. They will argue that 9-11 derailed so much of what Bush wanted to do because of Clinton’s failures.
I think you also are going to see a re-writing of the make-up of Congress during those ten years to allow for the argument that the Dems obstructed (via the Senate filibuster threat) what 43 and the GOP really wanted, so that true conservative ideas were never really tried during the decade.
Rove’s effort is to justify his own personal failure of a permanent GOP majority.
No one, but no one, would be willing to buy that. God, please let no one buy that…
That is so cynical and hypocritical that is is obviously the path that the GOP will follow.
I picked up on the same line Ash did
The factor that most makes this unlikely is GWB himself. His role has been played out and rejected.
People have too much evidence in their own lives that it’s been a disaster. Yes, some of them will do a kneejerk deflection of the problems to Obama, but I think most folks are pretty aware of the source of their troubles.
The “Bush was too liberal” approach has already been tried by the Cheneyites when Republicans lost Congress in 2006. Conservatism can only be failed is their refuge, and they will never never accept responsibility for anything that happened during Bush. Never. Unfortunately, the “mistakes were made” press won’t either, so they need to stick together. Puke needs a funnel.
Legacies are pretty important for Presidents and their handmaidens. Paul Begala said the same thing with respect to Bill Clinton’s support for Obama, back in September of 08, on Bill Maher’s show.
That the entire defense of Bush’s national security policy is coming from Dick Cheney and his minions, and nothing at all from Bush himself, gives a pretty clear picture who designed and implemented that policy.
@SIA: depends on the definition of “most folks.” in 2010, most folks will be limited to the base and the near base of each party. The GOP is not worried about its tea-party base, but the near base, or those GOPers that are leaning independent because of what happened during the time of 43. Yet, those same people, I am sure, are looking for a way to blame those failures on the Dems.
Plus, they are aiming at the Village to give them a better he-said/she-said narrative for 43’s presidency.
I’m sure someone will try, but I don’t think they’ll be much more likely to succeed than those who tried to rehabilitate Hoover back in the day (and I’m sure they existed).
Meanwhile they’ll be fodder for scorn and sarcasm, in this venue as in others.
c u n d gulag
What’s wrong with everyone?
In reality, there’s nothing to rehab in Bush’s reputation, except how outsiders view him.
To insiders, he was a master of “The Wrecking Crew” school of conservativism, and “Shock Doctrine” internationalism.
The conservatives may claim now, out-loud, that Bush wan’t conservative enough. It doesn’t mean what people think it means.
Bush wasn’t conservative enough for them because there’s still some remnant of a country standing. If the entire country collapsed into a state run by corporations backed by Blackwater police and military somewhere in the mid-2000’s, THEN Bush would have been a conservative success.
@eric: Good point, and I’m not very optomistic about 2010 elections for the dems. It might come back to the questions of when peak wingnut is reached. :) If it’s still peaking, the “conservative” base will come out in droves. Also the way HCR ends up will have an impact on the energy of the liberal base. My point about “most folks” was probably ill-written. I’m referring to anecdotal evidence from talking to southern right wingers, who seem ashamed and reticent about the Bush years; one of them told me angrily after Katrina, “I’ll never vote for anyone named Bush again”. My mother, who adored George Bush and could believe anything he said, has gone silent on the issue. I’m not saying these people like Obama, they don’t. But I think the Bush years were too clearly catastrophic for any but the most oblivious to deny.
As far as the Village narrative you mentioned – I think that’s already in force.
I think this year is too soon, especially as the real purpose of the Bush rehab effort will be to prepare the ground for Jeb in 2012. God help us.
kommrade reproductive vigor
They already tried Bush The Stealth Liberul. I assume they stopped because Iron Babs made threatening noises. I guess they could say he was a nice guy surrounded and confounded by Stealth Liberals but that puts “people” like Karl Rove and Dick Cthcheny in an awkward position. Claim all those Repugs in Congress were SL’s? Sure, go ahead. Me likey the purity purges.
Speaking of Rove, DougJ, I can now hear him whinging “You shut your mouth! How can you say, I go about things the wrong way?”
I’ll tell my therapist to forward the bills to you.
Edited to nominate Cat Lady’s Puke Funnel for tag status and Lexiconing.
I think usual pack of thugs, whores, and liars will try to rehabilitate W, but I doubt that anyone outside the beltway will notice or care. In fact, I would be willing to bet actual money on the proposition that no Republican actually running for office in 2010 will seek an endorsement from George W. Bush.
Mike in NC
It makes perfect sense since 2010 is an election year and there needs to be a simple pro-GOP talking point to promote, like “He Kept Us Safe”. So get ready for the wingers to crank up the volume even more than anybody imagined possible. Op-eds will appear on why we need to waterboard scary Mooslims who might board airplanes. FOX News will introduce “The Palin Hour” three nights a week so she can free-associate, and McCain will finally get a Sunday talk show of his very own. Fistfights and name-calling will interrupt the State of the Union address. Teabaggers and Birthers will take to the streets with the media breathlessly following in their wake. In short, the rehabbing of Dubya will probably be the least of our concerns. Frankly, it might even be a good idea to fast forward to 2011, because it’s going to be freakin’ crazy.
We have already seen this effort actively undertaken.
Mary Matalin and Dana Pig-Missile Perino have been rewriting history on their hack media tours and declaring that there were no terrorists attacks in America during the Bush Presidency and even if there were they were inherited from The Clenis.
This is the way they reconstructed Ronald Reagan into the very Founder of our modern Republic, and attacked anyone who would even dare question that He was the Best President ever.
Nowadays history is on meth. GWB = Louis XIV. Imperialism. Break the bank. Obama = Louis XV. Retrench. Liquidate. Next = Louis XVI. Chaos. Revolution. We can do 100 years of history in under one generation.
Well, this report ain’t gonna make that job any easier.
And don’t forget how Bush Jr. went from being Ronald Reagan II Incarnate when his approval ratings and popularity were high to ‘no, no, Bush Jr. was a liberal, I never supported him…’
The Village has been preparing for the return of the
ToryRepublican Party since the last election. What else explains all the Bushites now prominently displayed on the business side of the nation’s top brand bird cage liners? And other things McCain and Palin, also?
Though they will do their part in abetting the Cheney Doctrine with the National Security plank of the GOP 2010 election platform – the GOP’s main claim of competency – they may have a difficult time explaining Cheney’s own short term memory losses at the 9/11 Commission. This is what the Dems should push back on if the GOP try to compare 1st year equivalencies. Bush is not the factor. Cheney is. Paint a bulls eye on that barn.
For the “2010 is 1994” and the “uninterrupted de facto GOP rule of the country since 1980″ memes to continue, this has to succeed, and it has to succeed starting now.
The Village theme of 2010 will absolutely be “Bush was better than Obama”. Even when the Republicans fail to win control of the House and Senate, the Republicans will still have a center-right mandate to govern the country.
I’ve already seen a bumpersticker with Bush II on it that said “Miss me yet?”
kommrade reproductive vigor
@El Cid: And now a noisy, hard to ignore contingent is holding up Dipsicle Palin as Regan incarnate. When I see how his supporters piss on his legacy, I wonder why I bother insulting the old coot.
Really, Rove et al can plot all they want. During the election they’ll still have to appease a group of people who want candidates who stand slightly rightwards of Pat Pukecannon. The fact that GOPeratives got through playing hide the salami with the crazies in the TalEvan, said “That was some crazy sex … but it wasn’t crazy enough,” and then hopped in bed with the teabaggers tells you how effective they’ve become.
Michael Steele. Also.
@Woodrowfan: Seriously? Wow.
used to be disgusted
Wow, I thought I was pretty cynical, but you guys are more cynical than I am.
I agree that people like Rove and Cheney are trying to prevent their administration’s failure from becoming a settled historical premise.
But I believe that horse is out of the barn and down the road a fair pace. In fact, I think the battle over Bush’s legacy has been over since roughly 2006. I can understand how right now, with all the fuss over the underwear bomber, it feels like we’re relitigating all the battles of the last decade. But mainly, that’s cause it’s been a slow news week.
The legacy of GWB is in the tomb; Cheney appearing from time to time to hiss at the daylight hasn’t helped, and I think the majority of people on the right would actually prefer to leave the corpse buried for another decade at least.
From the article Citizen_X links to in #18:
If the Dems have a lick of sense they’ll just repeat that every time the rehab project shows a sign of life. I think that propaganda arm/Bush library at SMU is supposed to open sometime this year, for example; that would be a good time to cite the facts.
Well written and spot on.
The reason the Village is so much on the case for rehabilitating W is that his failure was also theirs. Throughout nearly all of both his terms, they functioned as his faithful cheerleading squad and/or apologists. Admitting what the GWB administration was would mean admitting to their own role in aiding and abetting.
The good news is it won’t matter much. The old media that the Village runs is crumbling by the day.
I readily acknowledge that I am more cynical than most, and so to me the ‘cleansing’ of the GOPuke rep seems inevitable.
Indeed, Pres. Shamwow’s ascendancy may easily read as the effort by the Owners–the Bosses, Oligarchs, and Aristos– to get the (white) people to forget how much they had grown to despise the (also white) Busheviks, by giving them a (non-white) president onto whom they could/can transfer all that stored (for almost 30 years, since raygun and his bidness coup-plotteres uncoupled wages from productivity) animosity.
It’ll work like a charm. The only uncertain thing is how long the Owners will give Pres. Shamwao to accomplish his real mission: administering the coup de gras to the New Deal by gutting Social Security…
Regarding everything from W’s tenure as president, to evolution and global warming, the conservative movement has come to entirely rely on the idea that what is most believed must be the truth.
As Colbert would joke, “facts have a liberal bias” so they have just moved on to a fact-free world, and in many cases, evolution, etc. they’ve shrouded themselves with Christianity so that any attempt to confront them on facts results in them claiming to be persecuted for their religious believes. And with the media’s obsession that every story must be told giving equal weight to each side, regardless of any verifiable factual truths, we, as a country, have seem to decide that beliefs trump facts, and beliefs are truths. A true fact is no longer true if no one believes it. They can rewrite history by swaying public opinion. Nearly every wingnut truly believes that Obama signed the Wall St. bail out bill. If one points to the fact that this happened before he was even president, it is not the truth that is coming out, but rather, in their mind, proof of your liberal bias.
Under these rules, I do not see how the future can be good.
John “We Need More White People” Gibson has already written a book portraying W as a victim of liberal smears to disguise his smashingly successful record.
One of those words is spelled wrong.
Definitely. These people are nothing if not dedicated. Just as they managed to turn Reagan into a demigod, they could well turn Bush II into…well, something somewhat better than an abject failure.
@used to be disgusted:
GWB’s reputation is gone and isn’t coming back. And I don’t think they are even trying very hard to rebuild it. What I see instead is an attempt to create as many equalities between Obama and Bush as possible. Every little thing in the Obama administration is combed over exhaustively to find some passing similarity to a disaster under Bush 43, no matter how false the equivalency. Teh Right is hoping that by 2012 they can get folks to the point of cynicism about both parties such that the Obama = Bush meme is as strong as Gore = Bush was in 2000, and then grab another close election.
John “Make More White Babies” Gibson:
How the Left Swiftboated America: The Liberal Media Conspiracy to Make You Think George Bush Was the Worst President in History
That’s hilarious! Not only is he trying to change Bush record, but to pin “swiftboating” on liberals, too.
Good point. My favorite wingnuts did a list of “stories that didn’t get the attention they deserved”, better known as, “Waaaaaah! Why didn’t the media fully share my derangement on these?!?!?” This little tidbit made the list:
Yes, he seriously did just compare the ice storm and Iowa floods to Katrina. Totally the same thing! As one commenter pointed out, “The ice storm caused 24 deaths. The Iowa floods were in 2008, and caused one death. Katrina killed about 2,000 people.” Clearly, those niggling little details made no difference whatsoever. Narrative, not reality, is what counts.
Wait I thought wingnuts said that “swiftboat” means “to tell the awful truth about somebody.” What gives, Gibson?
I could be wrong, but I don’t think it will ever succeed, any more than would an attempt to rehabilitate Hoover, Harding, Buchanan, or Pierce. Bush managed to combine all the worst tangible failures of both the Pierce/Buchanan lead-in to the Civil War and the Harding/Coolidge/Hoover corruption, arrogance, and incompetence that led to a crash of the economy. Add in near Nixonian levels of paranoia and Nixon/McCarthy levels of fear-mongering.
And Bush did it all in eight years, starting from a point in time of relative peace and prosperity.
The failures are simply too numerous, too glaring, and, while none are individually unprecedented, the sheer scope and agglomeration of failure in so many ways is.
Bush will go down as the worst president in US history. At best (i.e., worst), consensus will be prevented until most of the Bush Admin’s hacks, lackeys, plumbers (in the Nixon sense), torturers, torture enablers, and patronage recipients die off.
Rehabbing Dubya’s legacy? A story comes to mind about cleaning some stables….
Katrina cemented that fucker’s legacy.
Commenting via Blackberry is hard work.
@kommrade reproductive vigor:
Nomination seconded, if it’s not already there. I think the “puke funnel” metaphor already has an internet history and origin before Cat Lady’s usage.
I don’t understand how conservatives make things into settled law so easily, like how 9/11 happened under Clinton. I still can’t wrap my head around that one.
@AB: I’m not sure they really are, but if so, I think it’s because of 1) the conservative disregard for even blatant dishonesty, and 2) the media’s general disinclination to challenge that dishonesty, and 3) a basic wussiness on the part of many dem office holders to vigorously push back against the lies.
@AB: I don’t understand how conservatives make things into settled law so easily, like how 9/11 happened under Clinton. I still can’t wrap my head around that one.”
Because the “conservatives” represent Wealth and own the media and practice collusion. And since this reality is so hard to believe or accept, people mostly don’t see it.
Atrios’ is the first known usage, and like any brilliant sparkling thing that is lying around waiting to be admired and put into use, I have succumbed to the pristine beauty of the phrase which describes the thing it refers to so completely and clearly, and which I intend to use over and over again. And, it made it into the lexicon already. Also, too.
The Decade of 2000-09: When it All Went to Shit (WAWS).
I’m struggling to think why this could not have been written at the end of each of the last 5 decades. Possibly the 90s, when people hadn’t realised what Clintonian Neoliberal policies would end up in (although to be fair Clinton et-al were just carrying on the policies of their forebears), but, seriously… Vietnam? Reaganomics? Iran-Contra?
I suspect the most damaging meme will be the one that Bush presided over some kind of aberrant perversion of the typical American government rather than a marginally exaggerated satire of the normal state of affairs.
Nothing a sniper scope can’t fix.