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Worse than even Nixon?

May 15, 2008 - Lee Smith
President Bush has fallen so far in the polls that even the most-reviled president ever — Richard Nixon — claims a better rating. This is stunning and indicative of a general anxiety in American society that is, in part, media driven. The Bush administration has had its problems, primarily a seemingly never-ending war in Iraq. But time and casualties cannot be the only measurements if we are to truly judge the merits of the fight. We have been in South Korea for more than 50 years, keeping the peace after the Korean conflict. Likewise with Europe, where we remained after World War II to blunt the Soviets. Is it the casualties? They are tragic ... but extremely light by historic standards. And in steep decline this year as a new U.S. strategy has routed al-Qaida in Iraq. We should not give the Iraqi government a blank check on our commitment there. But it's not another Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson, who presided over that war, was a truly terrible president. Perhaps our worst. Nixon, at least, got us out, although without due credit. The Bush administration also suffers in reputation because the U.S. economy has undergone a downturn. Why? The housing "bubble" burst. Is this the administration's fault? I recall that Congress pushed lenders to do more to loan money to minorities and avoid the practice of "red-lining" neighborhoods. Well, the money certainly flowed in ensuing years. The loan packages, however, turned out to be good neither for borrowers nor lenders. Adjustable-rate mortgages eventually required hefty payments that borrowers couldn't meet. This, in turn, set off a chain reaction of credit troubles at banks. Stocks fell. This economic problem became inflated by media reports of a non-existent "recession." This was soon reflected in people's outlooks. I don't wish to cheerlead for President Bush. His administration has been fiscally irresponsible, running up budget deficits. But would Gore or Kerry administrations have been more responsible? Those two are, after all, tax-and-spend liberals who touted massive government programs, such as national health care. By the way, spending bills begin in Congress. Perhaps that is why its approval rating is as low as Bush's. Finally, I can only suggest that there is a general lack of historical perspective if, indeed, Bush gets the lowest rating. Perhaps it is only a function of current angst. Whoever is president next is likely to inherit the fortunate position of seeing the war in Iraq wind down and the economy turn around. If so, the next president will be popular. In the long run, Bush may recover some support.

 
 

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