In the lead-up to this week’s opening of the George W. Bush library, a jaw-dropping poll number was given on CNN’s site:
Eight in ten Republicans now say that Bush’s eight years in office were a success.
After some smelling salts and looking more closely at their data, I realized part of the problem of this poll was no option of a middle choice between “success” and “failure”, for example “mixed” or “somewhat successful”. People were forced to back their party’s guy and we get this result.
But the stat still seems pretty high for the disaster that was the Bush administration. Point being if that was a “success”, then let’s do a little comparison between 43 and 44 and see who we should consider the bigger success.
When Bush was inaugurated in January 2001: 4.2%. When he left office in January 2009: 7.8%. Overall change: 3.6% increase in unemployment. “Success!”
When Obama was inaugurated in January 2009: 7.8%. Latest numbers for March 2013: 7.6%. Overall change: .2% decrease. Bigger “success!”
Response to Devastating Hurricane
Public approval of Bush handling Hurricane Katrina in the days after impact: 43% approve and 54% disapprove. “Success!”
Public approval of Obama handling Hurricane Sandy: 68% approve and 15% disapprove. Bigger “success!”
Bush taking us into a war most Americans now consider a “mistake” and doing it with clearly faulty info while not focusing resources on a pursuit of the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks. “Success!”
Obama getting us out of the “mistake” and putting the emphasis of security forces back on those guilty of killing so many then giving the order to take out Bin Laden. Bigger “success!”
Before I get into these numbers, I’d like to clarify something. Many conservatives argue the 2009 numbers are Obama’s and not in any way the actions of Bush. There is an easy solution to this debate, however: ask conservatives who they thought was responsible for the 2001 budget prior to Obama becoming president.
You see, the government was running growing surpluses for three years prior to the 2001 budget. Then things started to turn around. So, if we figure out who conservatives considered mostly responsible for the 2001 budget, then we know who gets most of the blame for 2009.
Let’s ask Bush’s OMB director, Joshua Bolten when he testified to Congress in 2004:
In the last budget year of the previous (Clinton) administration (2001)…With the adoption of President Bush’s first budget (2002).
Seems clear. How about right wing economic think tank the Cato Institute? When they were doing the numbers on the first three years of Bush’s budgets in this piece, they included the 2004 budget which means no 2001.
Any conservative budget hawks from Townhall want to add their knowledge? Seems so:
So the $133.29 billion deficit in the year ending September 2001 was Clinton’s.
Hard right think tank Heritage Foundation weighing in:
Even the most rabid leftist cannot blame George Bush for the 2001 recession. It was the Clinton recession.
(This is despite the fact the 2001 recession officially started in March 2001, two months into Bush’s term. By comparison, the Great Recession officially started in December of 2007, 14 months prior to Obama taking the oath.)
But the most rabid conservatives have no problem doing the same with Obama by blaming him for 2009. Rabidly, of course. The blame of Clinton was rather extensive as this piece from the Daily Kos shows. That being said, using the conservative perspective that 2001 was all Clinton’s fault prior to Obama’s election, we can safely assume all conservatives understand 2009 belongs to Bush, right guys? Let’s look at some numbers.
(Source here for the following.)
First fiscal year budget deficit Bush is responsible for (2002): $157 billion. Last year he was responsible for (2009): $1.4 trillion. Overall: $1.2 trillion increase in deficit. “Success!”
First fiscal year budget deficit Obama is responsible for (2010): $1.3 trillion. 2013 deficit projection: $972 billion. Overall: over $300 billion decrease in deficit. Bigger “success!”
(Source here for the following.)
Federal deficit as percent of GDP in Bush’s first year: 1.48%. Final year: 10.13%. Overall: an increase nearly seven times higher than first year. “Success!”
Obama’s first year: 8.92%. 2013 projection: 6%. Overall: a 30% decrease from year one. Bigger “success!”
The Dow (all retrieved from here) on Jan. 20, 2001, Bush’s first day in office: 10,587.59. Last day in office, Jan. 20, 2009: 7,949.09. Overall: 2638.5 drop in the Dow. “Success!”
The Dow when Obama was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009: 7,949.09. As of yesterday, April 26, 2013: 14,712.55. Overall: 6,763.46 increase in the Dow. Bigger “success!”
If people are going to completely re-imagine history and call the presidency of George W. Bush a “success”, then they have to do one more thing when that is done. Admit the Obama presidency has been a far, far greater success in most of the ways we actually measure success when it comes to judging presidents.