One Look at the Bush Legacy
Posted by Ryan on June 22, 2008
Finally a journalist who has some sense of historical perspective beyond the contemporary headlines! Andrew Roberts wrote this article* comparing George W. Bush to another heavily maligned US president in his day, Harry S Truman.
I think the comparison may stand in historical perspective. Harry Truman was deeply disliked by the American people in 1952, blamed for an unpopular war, and navigating through a tough economic transition after World War II. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Truman was still viewed poorly: aside from the disastrous Korean stalemate, his “Fair Deal” fell flat, Congress kept flipping from Dem to Republican on him, Truman’s administration was constantly dogged for having real communist spies all over it, etc. But no one remembers much of that through the lens of history, since the basic tenants of Truman’s Cold War policies were used by all subsequent administrations in a truly effective way until 1991.
Today, he’s viewed by members of both parties as a model President, even in the top five to some experts and certainly in the top 10 to others! Even She Who Must Not Be Named once said that we need another Harry Truman — one who will make good decisions in the face of tough choices or being unpopular.
In a sense, we do in George W. Bush. As Roberts’ article explains, a President is usually remembered in history for one or two things. In 2030, Bush will not be remembered for Valerie Plame or Katrina or the “recession.” Once the contemporary politics has moved on, he’ll most likely be remembered for Iraq, Afghanistan, and for keeping America safe for the last 7 1/2 years of his Administration following 9/11. Or at least Bush hopes so.
Pic from MIT.
* — Roberts, writing for a British paper, mixes up Warren Harding with Herbert Hoover initially. As an historian this kind of bothers me, but his larger point still stands (plus he’s quoting from a left-wing news source, and you know loosely the Left uses history!)