Commentary Magazine


Bush Is Back

In addition to the plummeting support for ObamaCare, that Public Policy Polling survey had this nugget:

Perhaps the greatest measure of Obama’s declining support is that just 50% of voters now say they prefer having him as President to George W. Bush, with 44% saying they’d rather have his predecessor. Given the horrendous approval ratings Bush showed during his final term that’s somewhat of a surprise and an indication that voters are increasingly placing the blame on Obama for the country’s difficulties instead of giving him space because of the tough situation he inherited. The closeness in the Obama/Bush numbers also has implications for the 2010 elections. Using the Bush card may not be particularly effective for Democrats anymore, which is good news generally for Republicans and especially ones like Rob Portman who are running for office and have close ties to the former President.

Everything in politics is relative, we see once again. It’s only when presented with an “un-Bush” — the elite, Ivy Leagued cool guy who made media pundits swoon like schoolgirls — that the public, it seems, has come to appreciate George W. Bush: the decider, the man who teared up in the wake of 9/11, the president who frankly couldn’t stand the Israel and America bashers at the UN, and the conservative who may have frustrated conservatives with insufficient frugality but who understood and appreciated the limits of the federal government. Bush’s stalwart position on the war on terror (pro–enhanced interrogations, anti–Guantanamo closing) is shared by a majority of voters. And Obama? The public doesn’t agree with him on KSM, enhanced interrogations, or his signature domestic initiative.

The pollsters’ observation about 2010 is a telling one. Obama and the Democrats have been running on and speechifying about being “not George Bush” for some time. It’s old, and Bush is no longer so unpopular. They’ll have to get a new line and run on their own records. No wonder they’re nervous.

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