George W. Bush: A Retrospective

presidents

On Thursday, the five living U.S. Presidents — Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama) gathered at Southern Methodist University in Dallas for the unveiling of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The event marked one of the second President Bush’s first high-profile public appearances since he left office in 2008.

To say that Bush has been on the DL in recent years would be an understatement. (The Onion recently wrote an article satirizing that Bush has been living as a monk in Siberia for the past four years.) He is rarely seen at either political or apolitical events, a notable departure from the post-presidencies of the men who preceded him. And although he endorsed both John McCain and Mitt Romney, he did not openly campaign for either man.

This, however, was not necessarily a drawback for either McCain or Romney.

Indeed, polls have routinely placed Bush among the most unpopular presidents of all time. Even the GOP has attempted to distance itself from the Bush eight years in office. From the War in Iraq, to the economy, to Hurricane Katrina, the administration dealt significant blows to the Republican brand. Many say that Bush lost the 2008 election for Sen. John McCain before it even began, and probably played a role in Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat as well.

Nonetheless, it appears that time outside of the White House — during which he’s begun to paint and made time for his family — has made him less politically toxic. A recent Washington Post poll found that almost as many people (47 percent) approve of Bush as disapprove (50 percent) — a seven year high. Perhaps other struggling politicians should try shunning the spotlight if they truly seek redemption (paging Anthony Weiner)!

Moreover, though I strongly disagree with many of Bush’s policy decisions, and have a strong distrust of many of his chosen advisers, I always thought that he was a pretty nice guy. More than four years removed from the Bush presidency, I realize there’s a difference between the politics and the person. Bush may not share not principles, but he’s an honorable man who deserves a peaceful retirement.

And as the years continue to come and go, my guess is more and more people will come to agree with me.

Published by Alex Petros

Alex Petros is a staff writer for The Politic from Lexington, Kentucky. Contact him at alexander.petros@yale.edu.

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1 Comment

  1. George W. is the healthiest of all presidents in photo. Taking time off after the stress of being president is a wise choice. Obama has aged markedly since taking office. He probably more than wishes his 8 years were over so be can start his new life making millions like Clinton.

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