How will history treat GWB?

We’ve seen how the historical perspective is somewhat flawed, and can be affected by popular opinion. In a world where our current president is considered the third greatest ever in a national poll, I was wondering: ten years after Bush Jr. leaves office, fifteen, twenty, whatever… How will the history books and (perhaps more interesting) the American public remember him?

Obviously, with his term so far from over, it’s hard to say, but here’s the main question on my mind: how, and how permanently, will September 11th color perceptions of him in the future? After all, many people say JFK gets a lot more praise than he should simply for being assassinated in such a public, tragic way. Everyone remembers Lincoln for freeing the slaves and ending the Civil War, and not for any of the negatives that many commentators and historians saw in his policies and leadership style.

So: are we stuck with Bush as one of the Presidential greats due to his admittedly skilled handling of the days/months post-terrorist attack, no matter what may happen to him in his tenure? Will it start that way, but wear off later?


When the Chinese premier Zhou En-Lai was asked what he thought of the long-term importance of the French Revolution, he responded, “it is too early to tell.”

Popular opinion is an even less reliable item to use as a base for a history judgment.

My opinion is that the OP is absurdly jumping the gun. We are just more than a year into the presidency and it is absurd to attempt to guess as to eventual historical judgement. Even Clinton would be pushing it, but at least his terms are over, here we have the balance of the man’s presidency before us. Brilliance or idiocy, I shall not lay odds, could break out.

It’s definitely too early to tell, but I know where I’m placing my bets…

You can’t possibly believe this. “Admittedly skilled” by whom, exactly? A high approval rating doesn’t mean we’re all admitting that he has skillfully handled doodly squat. He hasn’t been a total embarassment, and everyone felt like circling the wagons, which means supporting the leader, no matter what kind of buffoon he may be.

You are doing some serious gun-jumping here.

Leaper, whose history, and when? Even if we were able to make a good guess as to what historians 10-30 years from now will think about Dubya (which we can’t), what does that mean about “history”?

Take John Adams. For close to 200 years, he was pretty much a non-entity in American history - I was a history major, and though American domestic history wasn’t my concentration, I certainly studied enough of it. About the only thing I recall being taught about him was that under him the Alien and Sedition Act was passed - definitely a mark against him.
But now, with the publication of the new biography of him last year, he is suddenly considered a hero - the unsung backbone of the Revolution and Constitution.
IOW, who can tell about Dubya?


Come back and ask me in 300 years… :smiley:

Zev Steinhardt

Myself, for one. If one is not being impossibly partisan to the point of willful blindness, and perhaps that is an exercise in the sheerest optimist, one has to admit that the post September through the end of the initial Afghan campaign foreign policy was masterfully, indeed almost brilliantly handled.

Since then things have not gone so well.

Collounsbury, while I agree with you that the situation was handled quite well, I can’t agree that this necessarily reflects well on Bush. Do you honestly believe it was GW who was planning the strategies of the campaign?

Having great advisors does not make you a great man.

Hey, people are already camped out in front of movie theaters for the new Star Wars film, right? Well, I’m metaphorically camped outside of the voting booth for 2004, whereupon I will cast in favor of Frank the Dancing Bear if I must.

That having been said, I can’t argue that this President’s actions in the wake of 9/11 were anything but reasonable. That’s a point in his book which I don’t think will be easily erased or concealed.

(Ahem, but I’d also like to give a theatrical nod to Pres–I mean Prime Minister Blair.)

Way too early to tell. My Magic Eight Ball, which is far more accurate than I am, says this:

“If he gets what his handlers want, you’re f—ed.”

I knew it!! I knew you were the Wandering Jew!



Is there room for him on Rushmore? :stuck_out_tongue:

If he ever falls off the wagon, history might treat GWB to a beer. :stuck_out_tongue:

As in, before it screws him?


Dr. J

Doesn’t Bush get some credit for surrounding himself with great advisors, and knowing when to take their advice? Or is he just incredibly lucky?


Golly Collounsbury, old man, I had no idea that you were the final arbiter of what constitutes “brilliant” and “masterful” foreign policy! Oh wait, you’re not.

Neither are you in a position to state whether I am willfully blind to anything, and I can assure you that failing to view Bush’s actions since 9/11 as “masterful” and “brilliant” hardly constitutes proof of any such blindness. Puhleeze…


Probably somewhere between Harding, Reagan (and I don’t mean that in a good way), and Grant. Of course this is pure speculation, based on my opinion and what he’s done so far.

Reading my college level text book, I’ve learned that some presidents are still treated as useless, even at the more advanced levels. Like Millard Fillmore, who was only called significant because he didn’t block the Compromise of 1850. Or there was Benjamin Harrison, who served a full term and still barely gets two pages (if that.) However, I think that 9/11 will guarantee Bush more than the one column (or less) that Fillmore got. (Of course, Fillmore was only pres for a little while.)

Seeing as Reagan is rated pretty high (Top 10 by a cross section of historians) I guess you mean average :D.

Ok, that aside removed (and yes, I do consider Reagan top 10), I think Bush II will be somewhere in the middle. Not too high, not too low.

Final arbitre of masterful and brilliant FP, did I claim that Stoid old girl? No, you asked if there was anyone out there who so thought so and implied no one of any sense would.

I rather contradicted you.

Now I do venture the opinion that if we were to take an exam on general knowledge of the theory and application of FP and its history (esp with an econ. slant) one of us might do slightly better than the other.

We can draw conclusions from that or not as you like. However, in general to judge something I rather think the judge should have some basic grasp of the topics and issues, but I’m perhaps a bit funny that way, eh no?

Am I not? Have I ever seen you respond to a political topic with even the slightest hint of distance and non-ideologically driven analysis. Well, personally I have not. Indeed your peevish reply here is the very model of your typical response on these matters.

However, this is rather like beating one’s head against a wall. The main issue being you pretended in your reply that there was no basis for judging Bush’s policy in a positive light. As I am hardly known as an immense fan of Bush, and have argued on the contrary against his policies in a number of areas in an informed and substantive manner, please do draw your attention to substantive, I venture the perhaps dangerous opinion that there is some basis to positively evaluate the man. For the substance I direct you to my postings in re the Afghan issues.

Now, in re Bush and credit for advisors: knowing whose advice to take and when is part of decision making.

Those who would simplistically denigrate Bush – who any non-partisan must admit is not, well, particularly sharp in the conventional sense-- for relying on his advisors miss the point.

No human can be expert or learned in all things. As president, one has to pretend to be a polymath, but in fact none of us really are. So in the end, what really counts is being able to grab the basics, listen to advice and operate with good instincts. Sadly, perhaps there is no one set of good instincts. Bush reacted more or less superbly after September. Modulation was near perfect. Since then things have broken down.

The issue then is the President’s capacity to render decisions in a coherent manner which advance national interest. Not his shear brain power, nor anything else. To the extent he does so, he is a good president. To the extent he does not, he is not. Reagan, who I confess I voted for once upon a time although I did not and do not like many of the precepts that went along with him, was an excellent leader although quite a stupid man.

Intelligence, despite often being accused of being intelligent, is often overrated.

Coll… there is a big difference between saying anything positive about him, seeing any competence in him, and the OP’s characterization or your own.


I implied nothing of the sort. The OP was treating it as a nearly unstoppable fact that Bush would be considered “one of the ** greats **” because of his “admittedly skillful” handling, as though ** everyone had already agreed ** that Bush has been, to use YOUR characterizaitons, brilliant and masterful, when that is aboslutely not the case. I was making the point that not ** everyone ** agreed on any such thing. And that’s all you will find in my response. Anything else is something you pasted on.

Stick with the facts and you’ll go far.