O Canada

2 comments March 31st, 2008at 08:32pm Posted by Eli

The Toronto Globe & Mail’s John Ibbitson does not have good things to say about Dubya and his legacy…

All presidents in the final year of a final mandate are lame ducks. But Mr. Bush is experiencing something unheard of for a U.S. president. He’s being ignored.


The U.S. economy teeters on the brink of recession, threatened by falling home prices and worthless mortgages; even Wall Street has lost confidence in Wall Street.

What is the President doing to avert the crisis? Who cares? Economically, what really matters is what Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is doing. Politically, what matters is what Mr. McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say they would be doing if they were in charge.

“There is very little that he will be able to do in his last year,” observes Larry Berman, a political scientist who specializes in presidential politics at University of California, Davis. “It’s legacy-shaping, rather than agenda-building.”

The problem is that Mr. Bush’s legacy is unambiguously dismal. He is leaving the economy in worse shape than he found it, with an extra $4-trillion added to the national debt for good measure.

He presided over a vast expansion, and abuse, of the powers of his office. The legacy of Guantanamo, torture and wiretaps will not soon be forgotten.

The war on terror has had few tangible successes and many apparent failures. And elsewhere in foreign policy, the record has been bleak. To take just one example: when Mr. Bush first met Mr. Putin, Mr. Bush declared that he had looked the Russian President in the eye, “was able to get a sense of his soul,” and found him “very straightforward and trustworthy.” Seven years later, Russia is more powerful, more aggressive and considerably less friendly toward the United States.

Because Mr. Bush is held in such low regard by Congress and the American people – his popular approval rating is currently one of the worst ever recorded for a president in office – he is even more constrained than other lame duck presidents.

“He has neither much leverage, nor much vision,” concludes Murray Weidenbaum, who was the first chairman of Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers and is now honorary chairman of the Weidenbaum Center, a public-policy institute at Washington University in St. Louis.


“Just look at the campaign,” he observes. “All through the primaries the Republican candidates tended to ignore Bush. They paid much more attention to Ronald Reagan. Even the Democrats seem to have lost interest in attacking Bush.”


Mr. Bush has little on his agenda beyond a slender hope that his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, might somehow broker an agreement leading to the creation of a Palestinian state.

And then, first and finally, there is Iraq. Prof. Berman predicts that “in 10 or 15 years, when all of the information is out on the decision to go to war, and all the intelligence is available, I think that President Bush will not fare well.” Some would consider that a scholarly understatement.

Mr. Bush, it has been said, compares himself to Harry Truman, a president who left office dogged by an unpopular war and low public approval, but who is today viewed as one the 20th century’s finest presidents.

It is possible that posterity will be equally kind to Mr. Bush. But if you’re going to compare yourself to Mr. Truman, it helps to have your own equivalent of the Marshall Plan, the containment policy against Russia, the formation of NATO, the defence of South Korea and desegregation of the armed forces on your résumé. What in the Bush legacy even comes close?


…[I]f Mr. McCain beats the odds and wins in November, giving the Republicans 12 straight years in the White House, Mr. Bush’s defenders will rightly insist that he deserves praise for helping make that victory possible.

Still, it’s a thin gruel after more than seven years in office, most of that time with a Republican majority in Congress. It is why Mr. Bush, rather than shaping his legacy, is forced to watch from the sidelines while others render their verdicts. And they are not kind.

Awesome.  I especially like the “Mr. President, you’re no Harry Truman” part.  Of course, I would prefer that America were not in the toilet in the first place, and that Iraq was not on the brink of all-out civil war.  But if that’s the situation we’re stuck with, I would at least like blame where blame is due.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Media


  • 1. Cujo359  |  April 1st, 2008 at 1:04 am

    If Bush wants to compare himself to Truman, he might start by showing that he has any plan at all. Heck with the Marshall Plan – how about a plan to get those trailers cleaned up in New Orleans?

    As for ignoring him, I’d say that’s the best we seem to be able to manage. We apparently can’t impeach him.

  • 2. Eli  |  April 1st, 2008 at 1:05 am

    Impeach who?

Contact Eli



Most Recent Posts




March 2008
« Feb   Apr »

Thinking Blogger

Pittsburgh Webloggers

Site Meter

View My Stats *