I am no groveling Bush apologist. I believe he has some serious faults and that he made many poor decisions as president. If that were the extent of the overall structure of any discussion regarding his presidency I wouldn’t be writing this. However, I don’t do very well with erratic, shrieking hyperbole based solely on what appears to be a combination of lack of historical perspective, a blend of post traumatic stress disorder and avoidant personality disorder, and overall dementia. In other words, when the criticisms of George W Bush go from reasoned and researched to full goose bozo and feel the need to step in and offer a rational defense of the man and his legacy to date. Again. I’m not saying the man did nothing wrong in eight years, far from it, but lets try to evaluate him based on facts and context and not raw, adolescent emotion.

According to an article about criticisms of President Bush on Wikipedia, “Former President Jimmy Carter has called Bush’s presidency “the worst in history”,[although he later said that comment was “careless or misinterpreted,” and that he “wasn’t comparing this administration with other administrations back through history, but just with President Nixon’s.” According to an August 2008 poll, 41% of Americans consider Bush to be the worst President of all time, though 50% of Americans disagreed.”

First of all, I suppose Jimmy Carter would be an expert on bad presidencies seeing as his was full of screw-ups and as such he was voted out of office after only one term as opposed to Bush’s two terms. Now onto the assertion that to me is the most egregious, that Bush’s presidency was the worst of all time. What exactly is this assertion based on? The state of the economy? The Iraq War? Laws he signed that Congress wrote while he happened to be in the White House? Every time someone says with red cheeks and sweat dripping off their furrowed brow that he was the worst president ever I never seem to get evidence supporting this argument.

Despite his own fair share of screw-ups and the current correction/recession the economy is experiencing, which are of course not good things, I don’t recall him blindly ignoring signs that the country may split and go to civil war. No, that honor goes to one James Buchanan. According to a survey of presidential historians organized by the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center, his inability to avert the Civil War has subsequently been assessed as the worst single failure by any President of the United States. Buchanan has been consistently ranked by scholars, as opposed to spoiled, traumatized brats spewing nothingness from eternal well of stupidity, as one of the worst presidents in US history.

Protests of the Iraq War led by those peace and love liberals were definitely hostile and violent (at times) but states weren’t willing to secede from the union over it. I think the only even moderate attempt at secession was a bunch of really angry Christian right folks who tried to motivate South Carolina to secede over the gay marriage issue. That’s not exactly equivalent to seceding over the right to have slaves in territories or states (contrary to modern opinion).

Now some also say that if he’s not exactly the worst, he’s at least the most hated president and that makes him the worst. Bush was not liked by staff at the New York Times that’s true but that’s not even close to a majority of the country. According to a poll put out by the Wall Street Journal, while his approval rating were pretty low, they were also comparable to others in modern times such as Truman, Nixon and Carter. In addition, with some exceptions, notably Reagan and Clinton, most of the modern presidents were not popular on their way out, and even Kennedy was on a downward slide at about the time he was shot. Besides, public opinion polls both longitudinal and published throughout a presidency in daily newspapers are poor instruments for measuring a presidency because God only knows just how illiterate or emotional those being polled are. Remember, we are the same people who no more about American Idol contestants than we do about our own Congressmen. And in point of fact, most presidents were hated in their own time only to have history remember them fondly as their decisions began to pay dividends in later years.

So let’s talk about some of the specific criticisms of his policies, namely that he shredded the constitution. According to various sources, “After 9/11, Bush continually signed legislation interpreted by his enemies as limiting the civil liberties of United States citizens. The two most prominent pieces of legislation are the PATRIOT Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which remove certain privacy rights and the right of habeas corpus.” Essentially what Bush and Rumsfeld wanted was to detain suspects, suspected of connection to terrorists or terrorism as an unlawful combatant. As such, it was asserted that a person could be held indefinitely without charges being filed against him or her, without a court hearing, and without entitlement to a legal consultant. Now I know that some scared silly child of a human being thinks that the evil government led by George W. Bush will use this as a means to come into their room in the dark of night, knock the pot out their hands and drag them off to a dungeon in Cuba. In reality, terrorism investigations are long and complex. This act was a means to let the government do its job in determining who the terrorists are and keeping them, permanently, from being active against the Western world. This is also known as erring on the side of caution as opposed to what liberal’s want, which apparently is anarchy.

But going with the asinine conclusion that there’s something wrong with imprisoning terrorism suspects and/or traitors to the United States, George W. Bush and Don Rumsfeld are not the first people to do this in history. President’s Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Bill Clinton, and the 1942 Supreme Court all suspended habeas corpus for one reason or another. It appears that the Constitution is still intact despite these transgressions so if we’re going to call Bush the worst president in history because of the habeas corpus issue, then we have to include Abe Lincoln and serial rapist Bill “America’s Fist Black President” Clinton.

George W Bush was not a great president by any means. By most accounts, while not stupid, he was considered to be non-inquisitive thus rendering him incapable of making the most informed decisions and subsequently he made errors in judgment. In addition, his people tended to keep the truth about certain issues, like Iraq, from him and report instead that the situation on the ground was going well, when it obviously wasn’t. I don’t know why they protected him the way they did but that’s the truth behind his presidency. George W Bush was a cheerleader campaigning endless for his party, much like Barack Obama, not a policy wonk like Newt Gingrich. Unfortunately, that makes for what appears to be muddled leadership but certainly not the worst in history.

As far as his alleged most egregious mistake, the Iraq War, one can hardly know the long term affects of the war while it’s still going on. History will either laud or condemn Bush for prosecuting this war but insisting that at present doing so makes him the worst can only be supported by emotion as there are no facts to back that up, therefore it shouldn’t be considered relevant to the discussion.

Any serious debate about historical figures should be laden with context and facts, not prejudice and irrationality and that’s why I believe George W Bush needs a defense against the erroneous notion that he’s the worst president in modern history.

Be Sociable, Share!