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Bush and Carter: Presidential Bookends?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, April 17, 2006

Dick Morris comes out firing with both barrels today when he characterizes George Bush as the Republican version of Jimmy Carter.

Yeow:
George W. Bush is a one- term president now serving deep into his second term. Like his father, he shot his bolt during his first four years. Unlike his dad, he was able to persuade America to keep him around for another term. But he seems destined to spend the remainder of his tenure, à la Nixon, "twisting slowly in the wind."

Bush has truly become the Republican equivalent of President Jimmy Carter, out of control, dropping in popularity, unable to resume command.
It has become apparent, at least to me, that the only reason George Bush was given a second term is his opponent was John Kerry. Bush is completely ineffective at this point.

Morris goes on to list a number of ways Bush can make himself relevant again. After reading them, I'm not impressed, and so, am not inclined to include them. But an irrelevant president is not an asset to his party.

Does anyone remember when Clinton was in the same boat? He managed to resurect himself quite skillfully. I just don't think George Bush has the political skill (or, frankly, desire) to do that.

Which means at some point this year, with midyear elections looming, look for Republicans standing for reelection to run away from George Bush. Republican Jimmy Carter ...wow, that's cold.

UPDATE: [Jon Henke]

I think history is very likely to take precisely that view of Bush. In fact, I though that view would obtain in the 2004 election, as I wrote in late 2003...
This time around, it's entirely possible that the electorate will not see Bush as they saw Reagan....a tax-cutter with a bold foreign policy. They may see him as Carter....a President during difficult economic times, with a foreign policy that made voters nervous.
So, I was wrong about the '04 election, but that certainly seems to be the story that history is writing now.

If Iraq ends well, he may be partially redeemed. On the other hand, if the various scandals blow up further, his footnote in history may read something like "Bush: see Carter/Nixon, worst aspects of".
 
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I just don’t think George Bush has the political skill (or, frankly, desire) to do that.
Judging from the past, this is just when Bush tends to be his most dangerous politically, i.e. when he’s being "misundersestimated".

I’m not saying that’s necessarily true in this case, but I am expecting we’ll see more effective politicking from Bush as the mid-term elections draw near.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
But will he be taken seriously by the public?

And will Republicans by then have made the decision to distance themselves from his presidency (IOW, even if he is more active, will he be able to be effective?).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
And will Republicans by then have made the decision to distance themselves from his presidency (IOW, even if he is more active, will he be able to be effective?).
I really don’t know. Republicans are certainly distancing themselves from him now, but enough good news from Iraq could change that overnight. It just seems to me that every time Bush is counted out he finds some way to reinvigorate his public image, somewhat similarly to the way Clinton did, albeit not as effectively or with the same flair.

And don’t forget that the one thing Bush has going for him is the Angry Left ... talk about poisoning the well ... who seem to hurt the Democrats chances at winning ANY election more than they hurt Bush.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
As one of my favourite sports stars likes to say, "No team is ever as good as you think, but no team is ever as BAD as you think." Much of this Dubya Doom is merely perceptual, though in politics that’s paramount. Carter high unemployment, high inflation, high interest rates, AND crazy Iranians holding hostages? So Dubya =’s THAT? REALLY? I don’t think so....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Sadly for Bush supporters and for the country, Morris has it about right. I don’t see Bush the Junior rallying ala Clinton to salvage his second term. Cheney’s the only person who can convince him that he must try something new, so that’s not going to happen. What you see now is likely what you’ll see two years from now. Add to the morass the GOP’s loss of the House in 06 and it’s not a pretty picture. His saving grace to date has been a relatively prosperous economy (in contrast to the Carter disaster.) $3+/per gallon gas won’t help that equation but it help shore up an entire avalanche of defeat. Bookends is pretty close.
 
Written By: kreiz
URL: http://
I think Bush may actually be Lyndon Johnson without the civil rights achievements.

And don’t forget that the one thing Bush has going for him is the Angry Left ...

Baloney. The Right has been angry for decades and it sure hasn’t hurt them. Finally, the Left is angry. They’ve been trashed mercilessly for twenty years now by the Limbaughs, Liddys and Hannitys and it’s about time they fought back.
 
Written By: Pug
URL: http://
Baloney. The Right has been angry for decades and it sure hasn’t hurt them. Finally, the Left is angry. They’ve been trashed mercilessly for twenty years now by the Limbaughs, Liddys and Hannitys and it’s about time they fought back.
You miss the point, Pug. Regardless of whether or not the Angry Left is justified in its anger, they tend to do more damage to Democrats running for office than to their stated enemy, GWB.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Yeah Pug, the Left has been vilified.... unlike all those FASCISTIC, Mean-Spirited Rupublican EXTREMISTS. And of curse, the point has been made it’s not about whether you have a justifiable rage, merely that your rage is electorally a drag.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The Right has been angry for decades and it sure hasn’t hurt them. Finally, the Left is angry. They’ve been trashed mercilessly for twenty years now by the Limbaughs, Liddys and Hannitys and it’s about time they fought back.


There’s constructive angry, which the Right employed, and destructive angry, which is what the poor dontrodden widdle weft is degenerating to.

Your "fighting back" amounts to a child smashing a toy because mommy won’t give him ice cream. Attention grabbing yes, mind-changing, no.

As for Bush/Carter....look, Bush isn’t effective now but he showed more sack than Jimmy Carter ever did.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Add to the morass the GOP’s loss of the House in 06


Talk about a big assumption...
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
You guys are sampling Morris to generate a "Bush Legacy" thread. That’s cool.
(It is a little like quoting Scott Ritter to justify a thread about U.N. credibility.)

IMHO: Bush’s legacy will be "Big-spender, Economic boomer, Victorious Warrior"

There’s just no getting past it: Bush gave the Democrats all the cake they could choke on, while stewardiing a booming economy and kicking Jihadi butt.
-Steve
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
Oh, sweet baby Jesus, McQ. Says Moris, as to how Bush might reinvigorate his presidency:

Put the drug fight front and center: Demand drug testing in schools with parental consent, and tax incentives for workplace drug testing. Link cocaine to terrorism, and build a national consensus for tough measures to cut demand.
Like, we haven’t been applying "tough measures" to cut demand? Mr. Morris, it is called the war on drugs, and it is an abject, expensive failure that has caused untold amounts of misery. Get. A. Clue.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Hey, I thought the only measure of whether a president was successful was whether the economy was good. At least that was what our friendly media kept assuring us from 1993-2000.

Lose the Congress? Who cares? Clinton did and it didn’t make a dent in his legacy. Why should it be different for Bush?

Terrorist attacks? Bombing the Chinese embassy? Giving into the other side’s legislation? No matter. Repeat after me - THE ECONOMY WAS GOOD!

Since I’m assured by, ahem, certain folks that the media is not biased towards Democrats and liberals, I’m sure Bush’s legacy will receive the same respect as Clinton’s.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Oh, sweet baby Jesus, McQ. Says Moris, as to how Bush might reinvigorate his presidency:
Yes, Mona, to which I said:
Morris goes on to list a number of ways Bush can make himself relevant again. After reading them, I’m not impressed, and so, am not inclined to include them.
The point wasn’t Morris’s list, but his characterization. I’m just asking if people find it to be valid and if so why and if not, why not?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
The point wasn’t Morris’s list, but his characterization.
Oh, I know. I didn’t intend to imply you were recommending the, er, recommendations. Merely expressing my horror at that particular one.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
"the only reason George Bush was given a second term is his opponent was John Kerry"

I think that explains 99% of it. The other 1% is the hope that something good might actually happen with entitlements or tax reform.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Since I’m assured by, ahem, certain folks that the media is not biased towards Democrats and liberals, I’m sure Bush’s legacy will receive the same respect as Clinton’s.
Heh ... I want what you’re smoking.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Oh, I know. I didn’t intend to imply you were recommending the, er, recommendations. Merely expressing my horror at that particular one.
After reading all of them I was underwhelmed. And yes, the one you cite was particularly bad.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Well in tems of "legacy" to be distinguished from politics, I think Carter has his Legacy and so does Clinton... Bush’s legacy, IMO, will be akin to Truman’s. In 1952 Truman was widely reviled, yet within 15-20 years people recognized what good he had done. Same with Dubya...
Between now nad Nov ’06 and ’08 I wouldn’t write him off. We get here about this time of year, Spring to early Fall Dubya is just pounded, about Sept. the numbers rebound and the Democrats begin to tank. They just can’t keep their mouths shut... If "Bush is moron, got us some points, then Bush is a child-eating, Demon-spawn from H@(( whom we intend to CRUCIFY will get us LOTS of points". Only not so true....

Again no team is as good as you think or as bad as you think. Just a few years ago Bush was going to eversee PERMANENT GOP dominance! I didn’t believe that I would encourage anyone to invest too heavily in Bush Coffin Futures.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Always interesting [not really] to see which way Mr. Henke will go on an issue involving Bush. Jon Henke: The Angry Middle. Still, he showed admirable restraint, given the plethora of opportunities for snark.
My crystal ball shows future headlines: "Dems Win Big!" "NYC Bombing Worse Than Originally Thought" "Would Bush Doctrine Have Saved NYC?" "Iraq Joins Iran In Mutual Security Pact" "$10 Gas Kills Economy - Dow at 1200" "China and India To Divide US at Mississippi" "Cuba Demands Florida - Backed By Iranaq" I can’t read the balance, they seem to be in Farsi and/or Chinese.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
Neat related story:
http://tks.nationalreview.com/archives/095073.asp
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I really don’t care much for the Bush administration and hate to be put in the position of defending it. But to compare him to Jimmy Carter is just silly.

point 1) we are in an unpopular war, but things are getting better, if we start to pull troops out and nothing major happens then guess what? It all looks better.

point 2) the Economy is doing REALLY well right now, contrast that to Carter, the worst economic years of this nation outside of the Civil war and the great depression.

Point 3) like him or hate him everyone can see that Bush makes decisions and sticks to them, this is in contrast to the Malaise of Carter.

Its not the same politically either. The Dems might get one of the houses of congress this time, but there is no sweeping mandate in the country now for the Democrats.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Bookends to what?
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
It’s not all about Bush. I certainly don’t remove the lion’s share of the blame from his shoulders, but everyone attempting to discredit this argument by claiming "GWB shows more sack, so his legacy will be better" are kidding themselves. It’s about the republican party and the political cycle where one idea, or a series of them is the right idea for a given situation, a political party rides that idea to , eventually, complete ascendancy - and then immediately begins to ferment and disintegrate. Meanwhile, the other party has discovered the ideas appropriate for the new situation.

Just like the late 70’s Democrats, the Republicans control everything but are intellectually bankrupt, pushing only fundamentally misguided ideas (A Tax Cut every year until we Starve the Beast, regardless of whether America actually *wants that outcome!) or, even worse, no longer pushing ideas at all, just handouts.

Meanwhile, the left has grown angry- a neccesary prerequisite to a disciplined, principled, and above all unafraid pusuit of political power. See republicans, late 70’s.

Bush’s legacy, like Carter’s, will be one of being handed every possible advantage and absolutely squandering them. The difference is that Bush has led this Congress by the nose, whereas Carter was virutally helpless to control his.

Last, but not least, sooner or later at least one of you, after puzzling for maybe a decade, "How come the economy was so great in 2004-2006 and Bush didn’t get any credit", realize that there is a lot more to a prosperous economy than Gross Domestic Product. Everyone making less than 100,000$ per year thinks the economy sucks, no matter how many statistics you throw at them. And for their reality, they are correct.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Second term is always a bad time for presidents. The honeymoon is over and it’s the 7 year itch instead.

Predictions:

1. Iraq will slowly get sorted out and our troops will leave before 2008. Even a rump insurgency there would merely put in the same league as Turkey, India, Peru, etc. all of which have insurgencies ongoing right now.

2. Economy is booming and hopefully will continue.

3. Budget will be in balance by October 2008 - hey amazing! It’s been going towards balance every month as the economy’s growth outpaces the growth in government spending. (yeah, spending less would help, but growth works too.)

Bush will be fondly remembered if this happens.

Wildcard risk: US dollar plunges

Lose a war like LBJ and nobody cares...lose your currency and it hurts forever!

A note on Clinton: keep in mind he gets a lot of warm fuzzy feeling simply from existing during the internet boom and the end of the cold war...meanwhile 9/11 while bringing a whole lot of rally around the flag for 2-3 years, eventually means lots of hard decisions and outcomes that may not please people who would rather have a quick war and back to happy days...anyone think that could actually be accomplished?




 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Good point’s, Harun. You raise some red flags.

I’m still bothered, though. Henke’s comment, "...that certainly seems to be the story that history is writing now," really bugs me. If one prefers a weighty definition of History, this tabloid treatment of the word is troubling. Presidential legacies play out over many generations, then History is written.

The rush to comment is good fodder for discussion, but it can be like tasting an omelete before it’s done: slurpy and hard to chew on.

BTW, I’ll bet Bush takes a very un-Clinton-like approach after he leaves office: no legacy obsession (no stategizing, no trans-global junketry), and a quiet, stone-built library in Crawford.
-Steve
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
Regarding positive accomplishments and legacy of GWB part two:

John Roberts and Sam Alito
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
Notherbob2:
Always interesting [not really] to see which way Mr. Henke will go on an issue involving Bush. Jon Henke: The Angry Middle. Still, he showed admirable restraint, given the plethora of opportunities for snark.
My crystal ball shows future headlines: "Dems Win Big!" "NYC Bombing Worse Than Originally Thought" "Would Bush Doctrine Have Saved NYC?" "Iraq Joins Iran In Mutual Security Pact" "$10 Gas Kills Economy - Dow at 1200" "China and India To Divide US at Mississippi" "Cuba Demands Florida - Backed By Iranaq" I can’t read the balance, they seem to be in Farsi and/or Chinese.
You bedwetting p*ssy. (No offense to actual p*ss*es intended.)

You really think we’re that weak, I suppose, so I guess the need for "strict protective daddy" Bush is almost tangible for you. ’Tis too bad that his actions don’t measure up to the hype — I hope the perception of a strong leader comforts you.

on preview: honestly, if one removed the "Dems win big" and "...Bush doctrine..." headlines, it looks like a possible McCain future. Scary, but that’s life...
 
Written By: GOPe Dealer
URL: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

 
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