Memory fades quickly in politics; less than a year ago George W. Bush was president, and already the man is halfway forgotten (something due in no small part to Bush’s self-enforced media silence).
Many, of course, remember that former President George W. Bush became distinctly unpopular during his second term. Liberals will explain this as a product of Mr. Bush’s stance on Iraq, civil liberties, the environment everything. Conservatives will point to his “betrayal of the cause” – the deficits and his moderate stance on immigration.
The average person might, if asked, talk about Bush’s poor handling of the Iraq War and the economy’s weak performance during his term.
These explanations all ring true enough. But there is a giant element which they do not account for. Nobody talks about this thing – this event. It is only when one reads George W. Bush’s wikipedia article, that one goes – “Ah! I remember that. He really failed on that.”
Think back to 2005. President George W. Bush has recently won a close re-election. The president has long ago lost the support of the America intelligentsia and the left (along with the world). But, according to polls, half the country still supports him; his approval ratings are in the high 40s.
It is late August now, and reports are coming in of a hurricane headed directly at a major American city. Scientists name it Katrina.
I think you can finish the story – of how the levees fell, of Mike Brown and “heck of a job”, of the death of an American city and how the word “incompetence” became permanently associated with Bush’s administration.
Hurricane Katrine constituted a tipping point from which Bush’s presidency never recovered. It summed up all of Bush’s weaknesses and failures in one illuminating moment. After that momentous failure, Bush’s approval ratings never again entered positive territory; he spent the remainder of his second term a premature lame duck, especially after Democrats retook control of Congress.
That is fairly ironic, because in many ways the man made far better decisions in his last four years.