It’s the year 2051 and an American history professor by the name of Robot Avatar at the orbiting campus of Space Cadet University is “wiring” his students about the 50th anniversary of George W. Bush’s presidency.
Professor Avatar laughs and says that, “despite what your grandparents remember about President George W. Bush, modern historians have a new respect and reverence for our 43rd president.”
STOP! STOP! STOP THE TIME MACHINE!
For those with Bush Derangement Syndrome you are allowed to pull the plug now.
But for readers with more understanding of the shifting sands of time and history, it is entirely possible that President George W. Bush could benefit from a President Harry S. Truman-like resurrection of popularity.
It’s certainly worth exploring and in fact it’s already happening.
There’s a March 8 Newsweek cover story headline screaming, “Victory at Last” in Iraq with George W. Bush on that infamous aircraft carrier.
Then a “60 Minutes” segment on Easter Sunday lauding Bush for saving millions of lives in Africa through his HIV/AIDS programs, and even Politico reported 44 percent of voters would prefer having George W. Bush back as president compared to 50 percent of voters satisfied with President Obama.
Folks, that’s only six degrees of separation and it’s only been 15 months since W permanently moved (or some would say was “exiled”) to his Texas ranch.
Which brings us back to the Harry Truman analogies.
The political resurrection of our now beloved “plain speaking” 33rd President who served in the tumultuous times of April 1945—January 1953, AND has the distinction of being the only president to drop two atoms bombs on enemy soil, is always a favorite tea time topic of historians and a beacon of hope for disgraced politicians.
For Harry Truman holds the all time record of lowest presidential approval while in office (22 percent) even lower than Richard Nixon (24 percent) who was forced to resign from the presidency in 1974.
By comparison, George W. Bush’s lowest approval was 25 percent.
How does President Truman, with the lowest job approval record of 22 percent, land in the top five best U.S. presidents in C-SPAN’s 2009 Historians Presidential Leadership Survey?
In this annual poll the winners are the usual champs; Lincoln, Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt and then Truman.
Yup, it looks like decisions made over 50 years ago in the heat of actual and political battle were not fully appreciated and only began to look better when analyzed through the lense of history.
So let’s go back to the future and look at the Presidency of George W. Bush and some major events of his two terms that could possibly result in him inching his way up from his current ranking of 36 in this same 2009 C-Span Historian survey, and maybe even surpassing his father President George H. W. Bush who currently sits in the 18th spot.
Iraq: When Professor Avatar is instructing the Class of 2051, Iraq could be a great ally and trading partner of the United States. With its tremendous oil reserves, educated population and budding Democratic rule, Iraq may end up as an oasis of stability in that volatile region.
Maybe by 2051 or even well before, our investment of blood and treasure could pay off and Professor Avatar will boldly quote to his class, “Mission Accomplished.”
Unemployment: In 2001, Bush’s first full year of office, the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent. It reached a high of 6.0 percent in 2003, dipped to 4.6 percent in both 2006 and 2007 and ended 2008 at 5.8 percent. Will we ever see unemployment rates this low again?
This could be a significant factoid to future historians examining President Bush 43.
Economic Crisis and the Bailout of 2008: Often lost in the media and those stricken with Bush Derangement Syndrome is that George W. Bush actually foresaw the economic crisis that started the Great Recession and tried to stop it in 2003. That’s five years before it happened!
Here is a September 2003 article from The New York Times that begins with,
The Bush Administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.
Under the plan disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac …
The article goes on to say a new agency would set capital reserve requirements and determine whether Fannie and Freddie are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.
Bingo! These are precisely the two factors that brought down the mortgage giants and with it a near collapse of the world’s economic system.
Congress, with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd as House and Senate Banking Committee chieftains are on record, and You Tube, as saying Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were just fine and leave them be, as they shot down Bush’s proposed Treasury Department oversight agency.
That prophetic warning could impress historians and catapult George W. Bush higher on the C-SPAN Annual Survey in say 2025.
Furthermore, the Bush administration’s response to the crash of September 2008 devised by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been credited with stabilizing our economy and bringing it back from the brink of economic disaster.
PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief): One of the most noteworthy successes of the Bush administration—as featured Sunday, April 4, on “60 Minutes” was PEPFAR. (Harry Truman alert, President George W. Bush was actually highly praised and credited, on CBS’ “60 Minutes” of all places!) This is because millions of lives have been saved or improved, particularly in Africa. President Obama has continued funding PEPFAR at high levels.
Since it is now only 2010, all history buffs and Harry Truman fans can do is wait and see if Bush Derangement Syndrome is not transferred by DNA to the historians of 2051.
However if DNA of Bush Derangement Syndrome is genetically transferable, than our 33rd president, who set the gold standard for in-office unpopularity, had a terrific explanation:
“A President cannot always be popular” — President Harry S. Truman
Myra Adams is a media producer, writer and political observer. Her media clients have included national associations, political interest groups and corporations. She was on the creative team with Mark McKinnon that created the now infamous John Kerry “Windsurfing” ad for the Bush 2004 presidential campaign and served on the McCain Ad Council during the 2008 McCain campaign. Myra’s web site TheJesusStore.com contributes all profits to Christian charity.