Terrance Heath

Worst. President. Ever. Still.

Filed By Terrance Heath | June 10, 2012 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: former President, George W. Bush, President Bush, presidential portrait

George W. Bush returned to the White House last week, for the unveiling of his official presidential portrait. Fox Nation used the occasion to ressurrect the billboard that loomed over a Wyoming, MN, which featured a head shot of W. next to a caption that asked, “Miss me yet?”

Not that Bush asked the question himself, during his visit, but the American people are still answering it with a resounding “No.”

Make that, “Hell, no.” According to a President-Bush-portrait.jpegrecent poll, George W. Bush is our most unpopular living president.

More than half of Americans view former President George W. Bush unfavorably, making him the most unpopular living U.S. president, according to a CNN poll released Thursday.

Just 43 percent of people questioned said they have a favorable opinion of Bush, while 54 percent said they view him unfavorably. Two-thirds of Americans, in contrast, said they have a positive view of Bush’s predecessor, former President Bill Clinton.

Of the other living former presidents, Jimmy Carter is viewed favorably by 54 percent of people questioned and George H.W. Bush gets a 59 percent rating.

Bush’s 43-percent favorable rating is roughly the same as it was in 2010. It is higher than it was immediately following his tenure in the White House in 2009, when his favorable rating bottomed out in the high 20s.

Too bad for Bush that the survey was limited to living ex-presidents. He might’ve had a shot at beating Richard Nixon, at the very least. Maybe. Still, it must sting to be left in the dust by Jimmy Carter. (On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney mentions Carter more often than he mentions Dubya.)

It may be a coincidence that Bush’s unpopularity is in the news during the same week as the anniversary of the Bush tax cuts. I reflected on ten years of the Bush Tax cuts one year ago. This year, Alan Grayson looks back on the damage after 11 years.

Bush claimed (as right-wingers always do) that tax breaks for the rich would create jobs in the private sector. Well, they haven’t. There were 110 million private sector jobs in America in 2001. There are 110 million private sector jobs in America today. Despite a population increase of more than 25 million, there are no more private sector jobs today than when the Bush tax breaks for the rich became law.

In the past 11 years, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased from 33 million to 44 million. The number of Americans receiving food stamps has risen from 18 million to 46 million. “Trickle-down” has not even been a trickle.

But what could we expect? We didn’t give tax breaks to the poor; we gave tax breaks to the rich. And for the rich, the past 11 years has been one long party. According to the Paris School of Economics, the top 1% in America saw their share of national income increase by more than 13% from 2001 to 2010. The top 0.1% saw their share of income increase by 20%. The top 0.01% saw their share of income explode by more than 37%, from 2.4% of all of the income in America to 3.3%.

The Bush tax breaks for the rich have yielded the most unequal distribution of wealth in American history, more unequal even than that of 1929, just before the Great Depression.

Ouch. It’s so bad the even Dubya kinda wishes they weren’t called “the Bush tax cuts.”

Maybe that’s why Bush is our most unpopular president. Maybe that’s why Mitt Romney seems to have forgotten all about the Bush years, and is banking on the rest of us forgetting how bad the Bush years were. After all, polls consistently show that a majority of Americans blame Bush for the recession.

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 54 percent of Americans consider George W. Bush primarily responsible for the problems facing the economy, while only 29 percent put the blame on President Obama. Even one in five Republicans blames Bush rather than Obama.

Of course, voters could pin the recession on Bush but still feel Obama hasnt done enough to speed the recovery. This is largely the argument Mitt Romney makes when he says Obama made the recession worse. And the poll provides some support of it: 48 percent of Americans approve of Obamas job performance an increase over recent months but only 45 percent approve of his work on job creation, and 52 percent say Obama, in general, has accomplished not much or little or nothing.

There are at least two kinds of Americans who can’t forget the Bush years, however much we want to: those who are living with the aftermath, and those who have to figure out how to clean it up.

Maybe that’s why the unveiling of Bush’s portrait was was an awkward moment. Bush was in a good mood, cracking his usual jokes, while Obama remained civil-but-reserved.

Of course Dubya could still make jokes.

Former President George W. Bush returned to the White House today for the unveiling of his official portrait. At the ceremony, Mr. Bush encouraged First Lady Michelle Obama to protect his portrait and gave some advice to President Barack Obama.

When the British burned the White House in 1814, Dolley Madison famously saved this portrait of the first George W. Now, Michelle, if anything happens theres your man, Mr. Bush said. I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do?

“What would George do?” Please. The rest of are still bearing the consequences of what George did.


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