Thursday, April 17, 2008

Historians to Bush: the Worst President?

One of the things I learned in the pursuit of my history degree is that the subject requires a long term perspective. There should be some time between the person and his or her impact on society before historians size them up. Many of my professors at Abilene Christian University -- conservative or liberal -- would say that if they are sizing up a President's impact before his time is done, they are political scientists, not historians. Many of those same professors would say "and, after all, political science isn't a real discipline."

Seriously though, these words of wisdom are being largely ignored by historians today. According to a recent US News & World Reports, "President Bush often argues that history will vindicate him. So he can't be pleased with an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted by the History News Network. It found that 98 percent of them believe that Bush's presidency has been a failure, while only about 2 percent see it as a success. Not only that, more than 61 percent of the historians say the current presidency is the worst in American history."
The worst ever? I'm sorry, but I was just talking to someone today about applying for a cashier job at a grocery store and stood in a line that went all the way around the corner. There were two openings at that store. During that time when President Carter was in charge, 13 countries fell to Communism, we had hyperinflation by US historical perspectives, and we were a laughing stock around the world. During that time, we were told by Carter that it was America's fault for being in such a sorry state. We no longer believed in ourselves, we were told.

We didn't stop believing in America, just the politicians running this country. It lead to a mandate going to Ronald Reagan and an American Renaissance. I come from a multi-generational family of Democrats and Carter single handily changed that view. With that, I'm not even sure if Carter was the worst (although he was certainly on the short list of such), but he makes Bush look absolutely brilliant.

In a recent blog post I discussed how the media has altered our perceptions of the economy. We have been fed recession garbage for years and are starting to believe it. Economist John Lott, Jr pointed out that our economic numbers are generally better than a decade ago when Clinton was President -- a period described as economically prosperous. I expect some of the average news consumers to buy into this media propaganda, but not serious historians.

George Bush will not be one of my favorite Presidents, I am sure. His failure to promote free enterprise and its success in the 2006 Congressional races haunts us today (and likely will in 2008), his expansion of government in several areas has been damaging, his inability to articulate the case for the war, and his haphazard and often liberal answers to our current credit crisis leaves much to be desired. But this is a man who presided over the country on September 11th, 2001 and helped restore confidence in this country that lead to a 17 percent growth of the economy under his tenure and remarkably low unemployment. The best President? No. The worst President? Give me a break.

Historians should know better and give history time to judge Bush and leave, what appears to be political agendas to political scientists. After all, they don't know any better.

Kevin Price is Host of the Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at HoustonBusinessShow.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Bush's policies are going to haunt Republicans and the country for years to come.

10:46 PM  

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