Jamelle Bouie is making sense on W’s supposed “comeback,” based on a WaPo poll showing his approval at 45%, considerably higher than when he left office (not a tall hurdle, admittedly) and even nearing Obama’s. Bouie makes two good points:
1) This is a single poll. Bouie points to a WSJ poll conducted around the same time that found 43’s approval at 35%, much closer to the gutter in which he’s been dwelling the past four years, meaning WaPo‘s poll could be just a statistical blip. At this point, Bush is “having a comeback” in the same way he “won the 2000 election.”
2) The reemergence of Bush, even discursively, is a perfect chance to not only remember why he was the least popular president of the modern era, but to draw a line from his unpopularity to the current crop of Republicans. The GOP may have abandoned Bush the human, to the point of his conspicuous absence from the 2012 campaign trail and even the convention (contrast with the ubiquitous and triumphant Bill Clinton), but the party is still running entirely on Bush’s platform. They still want tax cuts for the wealthy, Bush’s chief economic
grift mistake; many neocons want to bomb Iran, as if Iraq didn’t teach us some lessons about hastily attacking Middle Eastern countries; they still want to privatize entitlements, as Bush unsuccessfully attempted to do with Social Security; they even want to repeat the one noble thing he attempted, immigration reform, though they’re having to whip themselves to do it.
The specter of W reminds everybody of the consequences of these policies. It’s very difficult to continue to rail against Obama’s deficits when the man who created the deficit—out of a surplus!—is hanging around. It’s very difficult to blame Obama for the sluggish economy when the man who presided over its toppling is smirking into cameras all over again. Try making Obama out to be an out-of-control expander of government when the chode who invented the Department of Homeland Security is putzing about in a golf cap. To say nothing of trying to paint Obama as a bumbling incompetent when the man who fiddled while New Orleans drowned is making a comeback tour.
This is more than blaming Bush for Obama’s failures, as Republicans try to make it out to be. It wasn’t just Bush’s peculiar brand of inattentive governance that caused the deficits or the financial collapse—his policies of cutting revenue without cutting spending, and of deregulation, led directly to those results. These were replicable experiments, if anybody would care to repeat them.
The GOP is still running on these policies. If they want to take one poll as evidence that Bush is popular again, and use it to parade about everything that caused them to lose the 2006, 2008, and 2012 elections, nobody stand in their way.