Revisionism Roundup: Clinton Put Principle Above Tactics; Bush Sacrificed Standing for War

It’s a busy week for the observers of invisible and intangible political processes ! The Obama administration saw yet another major piece of legislation passed, but everyone agrees that doesn’t matter; on the other hand, BP engineers, after months of bumbling, have at least temporarily plugged the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which is a clear political victory for the presidency. Will the president overcome the way his performance has been “framed” by his foes, and be able to “refashion himself”? Or is he stuck with being ” widely perceived as flirting with a failed presidency “?

Between the lines, though, there’s good news for Barack Obama: No matter what a president does, or no matter what a president may be widely perceived as flirting with possibly doing, somewhere between the first draft of history and the second draft, the political experts will find a way to turn it upside down.

Thus, in the New York Times , Sheryl Gay Stolberg explains how Obama’s experience mirrors George W. Bush’s: 

Mr. Bush and his aides often felt they could not catch a break; when the economy was humming along—or at least seemed to be humming along—the Bush White House never got credit for it, because the public was so upset about the war. 

Remember how even though people were happy with the economy , Bush barely won re-election in 2004, with only 42 percent of the popular vote? Because the antiwar majority split the vote between John Kerry and Ralph Nader’s Out of Iraq Now Party? 

Meanwhile, in Politico, John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei compare Obama unfavorably to the last Democratic president:

Obama pays a price for failing to clarify and speak often about his larger philosophy, in the way that Bill Clinton often did, and instead responding tactically to circumstances on Capitol Hill or in the daily news cycle.
That was the Clinton presidency for you: leadership by fixed principle , unswayed by the news cycle or the opinion polls . Why can’t Barack Obama stay above the day-to-day politicking, the way Bill Clinton did?