Rumors of a George W. Bush Revival

Why presidents are more popular out of office.


Darrell Hammond wuz robbed.

George W. Bush's popularity has started creeping back up. Only 33 percent of the country approved of his performance when he left office, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll, but now the number is 47 percent. That's still less than the 50 percent who disapprove of how he did, but it's high enough to have some folks talking about a Bush revival.

I wouldn't put much stock in that talk. Gallup's figures are similar—it had Bush's job approval rating at 34 percent when he left office and 47 percent now—but it also notes that almost every ex-president starts to poll better in retrospect. Check out the other leaders' numbers here and see for yourself.

Here is Gallup's explanation for the pattern:

Nostalgia makes fools of us all.

Americans tend to be more charitable in their evaluations of past presidents than they are when the presidents are in office. Former presidents likely transcend politics when they leave office, moving into a more nonpolitical role compared with the highly political environment in which presidents operate. And Americans' retrospective views of presidents may focus more on their accomplishments as president rather than the day-to-day political decisions or the state of the nation that are big influences on their approval ratings while in office….

Evaluations of presidents may also be influenced by their works after leaving office, which tend to be charitable in nature—such as the fundraising for Hurricane Katrina led by Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush—or diplomatic, such as Carter's involvement in negotiations to secure the release of political prisoners.

That's a sensible set of theories (though I suspect that Carter's strong numbers are influenced more by his charitable work, which most people admire, than his diplomacy, which is controversial). But there's something else here that has to be acknowledged, a byproduct of the apocalyptic strain in politics. When a president is in office, there's always the possibility that he'll be the one who finally blows everything up—the man who launches a nuclear armageddon, oversees the complete collapse of the economy, or otherwise ushers in the endtimes. Once he's left the White House and we move on to worrying about some other executive, the old guy starts to seem comparatively harmless. The Bush years saw the biggest terrorist attack in U.S. history, a storm that had some people worried that New Orleans would disappear altogether, two wars, and the worst economic crisis in years. At the time that may have seemed like the end of the world, but now it's something we survived. When you look at that uptick in Bush's numbers today, you're seeing a sigh of relief.

NEXT: Steve Chapman on Americans' Tolerance for Risk

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  1. but it’s high enough to have some folks talking about a Bush revival

    Uh, or rather a collective “Fuck You!” against the current admin. What better way to show your DISapproval of current policy by feigning nostalgia?

    1. I see little difference between the presidents, though I suspect Bush was less personally corrupt and possible less personally socialistic, though the latter point doesn’t matter much.

      Obama is almost all that was bad about Bush plus more bad.

      1. Dat’s right, he bad.

        1. But I’m talkin’ ’bout Barack!

          1. Shut yo mouf!

      2. Just kind of curious how he could even come remotely as bad as Bush. Two large scale ground wars, bank bailouts, auto bailouts, gitmo, blackwater, etc. I mean, that’s a lot of bad mojo to compete against.

        1. that’s a lot of bad mojo to compete against

          Obamacare; feckless meddling to no good end in the Middle East (incl getting 4 people killed in Libya – which was eminently preventable); driving the EPA to treat CO2 as a pollutant; tripling down on bailouts/stimulus; putting the freedom-supporting Wise Latina and the Fat Dyke on the Supreme Court; picking JOE FUCKING BIDEN as his running mate….

          Yeah, the Bamster’s bringing a LOT of extra Bad Mojo to the table.

          Worst. President. EVER. Worse than Bush – who is SECOND. Worst. President. Ever.

          1. Libya = Iraq. Maybe worse!

            You know you are dealing with a Bush shill when that stupid shit comes out.

            1. Did I say Libya = Iraq?

              No – you know you’re dealing with Shriek or Tulip when the non-sequiturs and strawmen come out.

              Go fuck yourself, shriek.

          2. Don’t forget that Obama also resigned the Patriot Act and signed the NDAA.

            He bailed out GM and they went bankrupt anyway.

            Cash for Clunkers was a whole new level of stupid.

            Opened his big yap about the Skip Gates controversy and ended up having to do a silly PR stunt to get another media tongue bathing.

            Cried like a bitch after his pet gun legislation didn’t pass.

            Trillion-plus dollar deficits since he came into office.

            Yeah, Obama’s just as bad as Bush. In some cases, he’s worse.

        2. Well, he enshrined indefinite detention of American citizens into law, asserted the right to assassinate them without trial, actually did assassinate one, quadrupled warrantless wiretapping, prosecutes whistleblowers at a record pace, requested a record budget for the War on Drugs, is telling telco companies and ISPs that the DOJ will shield them if they will agree to illegally spy on their customers, and on and on…

          1. Actually raids four times as many medical marijuana facilities as Bush . .

        3. Well let’s see what Obama has on his side of the ledger

          2 large-scale ground wars (continuing and expanding on Bush’s wars)

          attacks on Libya

          bank bailouts (continuing and expanding on Bush’s policy)

          auto bailouts (cash for clunkers remember) – oh and continuing and expanding on Bush’s policies




          Droning civilian non-combattants in foreign countries

          Droning Americans in foreign countries

          Saying that he has the authority to kill/capture and extraodinarily rendition Americans with no judicial oversight at all


          Widespread spying on Americans in America – to the extent that the Justice Departments gets around warrant requirements by promising not to prosecute telecoms that play along.

          Embassy at Benghazi

          Whistleblower prosecutions

          Continuing and expanding on the Bush policy that whatever the president does is legal since the president is doing it

          Refusing to use his pardon ability except on cronies.

        4. The auto bailouts were under Obama, retard.

          You know what happens when you continue all of the other guys bad mojo, plus add to it?

          You become the WORST. FUCKING. PRESIDENT. EVER.

        5. “Just kind of curious how he could even come remotely as bad as Bush.”

          I’d have thought so too…yet here we are.

  2. Nearly half of Americans incorrectly think President Obama started the the bank bailout program, otherwise known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a new poll shows.

    Just 34 percent of Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center correctly said that TARP was enacted by the Bush administration. Almost half — 47 percent — think Mr. Obama started the bank bailout, according to the survey, conducted July 1-5. There was no partisan divide on the issue.


    1. Bush’s biggest mistake in late 2008 was not letting everyone suffer the fate of Lehman Brothers.

    2. Yawn. Obama voted for it and accepted additional funds that he had the option of rejecting.

      1. Yes, we always blame a Congressman for legislation a POTUS begs for and signs.

        1. Senator, not congressman.

        2. Yes, “we” blame everyone who voted for it and signed it. Because we’re not partisan hacks like you.

        3. The legislature “legislates” dipshit – President just signbills that come from…the legislature.

          Go fuck yourself.

          I thought you were boycoting, Shriek? No? Was that Tulip? I mix you tards up.

        4. No one is excusing Bush for that. But Obama could have done something different but didn’t.

        5. We blame that senator when he WORKS WITH THE SITTING PRESIDENT (after winning the election) TO CRAFT POLICIES THAT FUCK US OVER.

          Go fuck your daddy demfag.

    3. I thought congress appropriates money?

      No love for presidential signings, but who controlled congress in 2008?

      1. TARP was the last truly bipartisan legislation. Remember, Paul Ryan and Boehner were all in for Bush/Paulson.

        1. So then it’s safe to blame everyone, right?

        2. BS, your point wasn’t bipartisan. You said BOOOOSSSHHHHH (and don’t say it was a quote, you chose it). I’ve no use for GWB so don’t even. You’re the one regularly coming in here defending the indefensible.

          Non-reponsive. Again: who controlled congress in 2008?


            WAKE UP, MAN!1!!1!

            1. I don’t even… is it safe to channel that much stupid?

          2. Remember that time shrike argued in good faith? Yeah, me neither.

  3. To get nostalgic about the previous admin is not too terribly difficult when you have a current one that kept all the bad features of the previous, shed the few good ones the previous had, and came up with more bad ones of its own.

    1. To put it simply, Obozo = W^2

    2. So you blame Reagan for SS, Medicare, and Medicaid because he “kept them”?

      1. Are those programs discretionary?

        The TARP ones were.

        1. All government spending is discretionary.

          1. Technically, the service of our debt isn’t, unless we amend the Constitution. All of the rest is.

          2. Using the common usage (I know, I sold out).

      2. Not really, as Reagan was never in a position to veto those programs – they were already in place before he took office and no legislative vote to remove them ever showed up on his desk.

        Unfortunately for your thesis, Obama’s many problems stem either from legislation that he signed into law (Obamacare for example) or policies that he started himself or policies carried over from his predecessor that he could have changed/eliminated but chose to continue or expand.

        1. I mean I don’t blame Carter or Clinton for SS or medicare – I do blame them for the specific failings of each of there terms.

      3. I blame Reagan if he signed budgets that used the SS, Medicare, and Medicaid funds as part of the general fund.

        And I’d sure as fuck blame Reagan if Carter had signed a one time stimulus and he turned around and used that as the new baseline for the budget.

        Fuck you are a disingenuous piece of demfag shit.

        1. I blame Reagan if he signed budgets that used the SS, Medicare, and Medicaid funds as part of the general fund.

          What the fuck are you talking about? He had no choice but to sign budgets that put SS and Medicare funds into the general fund. That’s what the law required.

          SS was set up to have its excess funds used as part of the general fund in exchange for special federal bonds called the “SS Trust Fund”.

          Medicare was originally supposed top funded with premiums paid by the geezers it covered. It wasn’t until it became obvious that in was unsustainable they started collecting taxes from workers for it with, wait, the surplus going into the general fund

          There is no dedicated tax for Medicaid. It has always been paid for out of general revenues.

          1. IOW, Reagan did not invent the frauds known as the “SS Trust Fund” and the “Medicare Trust Fund”.

  4. I don’t know what revival means exactly in this context, but eventually history if not historians will look back on Bush much more favorably that we can currently imagine, as he will be weighed against the succession of increasingly terrible executives we vote into office.

    1. we vote into office

      Fuck off, slaver! I voted – not for either one of them.

      1. You voted? Fuck off, slaver!

    2. He’ll be remembered as the beginning of the bad times, which is why Clinton will be regarded 100 years from now as one of the greatest of all Presidents. People will be scratching their heads wondering why there isn’t a memorial to him on the National Mall, and several committees will be set up to create one.

  5. Remembering the Bush hysteria is what made the Presidential election so bizarre. The shit that was said about Romney made it seem like he was the Devil incarnate, but really, the GOP couldn’t have picked any bigger of a Boy Scout.

    If BOOOSH!!H! ever gets canonized like Reagan is, it will only be because the Left has gone so overboard with their current target.

    1. Reagan actually accomplished a few worthwhile things.

      1. Raising taxes and was a cheerleader for unions?

        1. The President of the Air Traffic Controllers Union would like a word with you.

          But otherwise, yep.

      2. Militarized the war on drug users, made urine tests commonplace, doubled the debt, strengthened the Departments of Energy and Education that he pledged to abolish, raised tariffs, paid farmers not to produce food so as to keep prices high, expanded foreign aid, raised the drinking age…

    2. And Reagan is routinely put in the top 15 in POTUS rankings by the “librul media” where Bush is ranked dead last.

      1. Not surprisingly your talking out your butt again. I’ve seen several rankings with Bush in the bottom quarter. I’ve yet to see one where Bush is dead last.

        Here’s an actual link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H…..ted_States

    3. The Romney thing was just weird. He could have been a quite plausible democrat candidate, but still got painted as some hard right monster.

      1. Because he was Republican so obviously he was anti-government nutjob.

  6. GWB has been a good ex-President: essentially silent and invisible.

    Unfortunately, this is one of the few Bush policies his successor will not emulate.

    1. Hear, hear!

    2. Yep. And silent and invisible is exactly how he ought to stay, considering the things he did to this country.

  7. If Jeb runs for President, we should just put up the “Going Out of Business” signs, and be done with it.

  8. Jesse,,

    Do you really think Bush created Katrina? If so then I guess Obama created Sandy, which was just as bad and such as big of a cock up by FEMA.

    1. I don’t read Jesse as saying BOOOSH caused Katrina – just that it happened along with a lot of other bad shit, some of which he also didn’t cause (911 unless ur a TROOFERS!), some of which he did (wars, TARP, etc.).

      But I don’t quite understand the “sign of relief” statemen – and don’t agree that’s what’s going on.

      1. I don’t quite understand the “sign of relief” statemen

        Just that stuff that might have looked like The End Of The World at the time now looks like Some More Bad Shit We Survived.

        (Maybe I’ll add a line to that effect to make the post clearer.)

    2. Do you really think Bush created Katrina?

      What? Er, no.

    3. I don’t completely blame Bush or Obama for Katrina or Sandy; yes, they’re the top dog and ultimately responsible. More at fault, IMHO, is the bureaucratic mentality that’s endemic in government today… the feeling that nobody can ever fuck up enough to get fired, so they don’t really need to put much effort into accomplishing the mission.

      So FEMA (as a bureaucracy) doesn’t really care about trying to help the victims; they’re more interested in maintaining the bureaucracy.

    4. If not for his diplomatic incompetence that destroyed our truce with Neptune, god of the seas, Katrina would never happened.

  9. Nearly half of Americans incorrectly think President Obama started the the bank bailout program, otherwise known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a new poll shows.

    Because he like to claim credit for “saving the economy” from the worstest apocalypse ever?

  10. As he recedes into history he’ll take his rightful place next to such greats as Harrison and Fillmore.

    1. Sorry, but Harrison was our greatest president. The worst is obviously Wilson followed by Pierce and Buchanan.

  11. I don’t think it’s so much a Bush revival as a “Holy Crap! Things really COULD get worse!”

    1. + 6.2 trillion

  12. The plainest proof that Americans loved George W Bush is that they have re-elected his policies three times now.

  13. Every time I hear his name I think Liar Liar pants on Fire lol.


  14. The things that gets me about the Bush hate is that these are the same people who claim how anyone who distrusts the government today is a lunatic. The only consistency is hatred of their opponents.

  15. No love for Fast and Furious?

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