We’re coming down to the closing days of the Bush administration and I find it interesting how he has been portrayed as a political pariah. All presidents have some political baggage they have to take home with them as they leave office, but I find it interesting that the public tends to remember only the bad things and not the good things the President has done. To illustrate, consider the legacy of the last few presidents and how they will undoubtedly be remembered by historians, both pro and con:
Lyndon Johnson –
Negative: Will primarily be remembered for escalating the Viet Nam War.
Positive: But he will also be remembered for his “Great Society” legislation which is still with us today.
Richard Nixon –
Negative: Of course, Watergate is the first image conjured up by anyone discussing Nixon.
Positive: Opened relations with China and started an era of détente with the Soviet Union.
Gerald Ford –
Negative: Portrayed as a bumbler by the media, and his pardon of Richard Nixon didn’t sit well with them either.
Positive: Although he was in office for only a short period of time, he was able to restore decency and honor to the presidency.
Jimmy Carter –
Negative: Iran is indelibly associated with Carter, including the fall of the Shah, the rise of the Ayotallah, the hostages, and the botched rescue attempt. Iran ultimately cost Carter the White House.
Positive: Helping to negotiate the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. He also started the Department of Energy and encouraged energy conservation.
Ronald Reagan –
Negative: The Iran-Contra affair was like an annoying gnat that wouldn’t go away.
Positive: Will be better remembered for the demise of the Soviet Union, the introduction of “Reaganomics” and an era of prosperity.
George H.W. Bush –
Negative: “Read my lips” cost him dearly, but it was the recession that ultimately did him in.
Positive: Won the first Persian Gulf War, he presided over the end of the Cold War (and the fall of the Berlin Wall), and introduced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Bill Clinton –
Negative: Impeached, Somalia, Whitewater controversy, Sexual misconduct, etc.
Positive: Presided over a peacetime economic expansion and the first balanced budget in many years.
George W. Bush –
Negative: Will long be criticized for the current financial crisis and ending the military presence in Iraq.
Positive: He stepped up to the plate when called upon for the War on Terror and forced the terrorists into retreat. He formed an international coalition and conquered Iraq. He also put the “Axis of Evil” on notice that the United States was not to be trifled with. And his tax cuts will be emulated by future presidents.
Except for Reagan and Clinton, all of the presidents listed here will be remembered for the negatives and not the positives. As to Reagan, the Iran-Contra affair was considered small potatoes when compared to his other accomplishments. Clinton on the other hand represents a strange conundrum; even though his administration was always at the forefront of controversy, he ended his term of office with high approval ratings. Whereas his antics would normally be considered political poison for anyone else, Clinton somehow came out of it smelling like a rose and is still held in high regard by the Democrats.
In contrast to Clinton, President Bush is not embraced by anyone, including his own political party. It disturbs me that Bush is portrayed as a bumbling uneducated schmuck while “Slick Willie” is seen as a saint. Wow, talk about having our moral values mixed up.
Nobody else will say it, so I will: Thank you President Bush for your many years of service to our country. Were you perfect? No, but neither will your successors be as they will undoubtedly screw-up somehow along the way. For some reason the media and American public seems to forget that we elect human-beings to the office of the President, not Gods.
Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at email@example.com
For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.
Copyright © 2008 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.