Yesterday I talked to a bunch of conservatives and published this quick piece on the inevitable re-emergence of George W. Bush as a not-unpopular former president. Starting at the end of 2008, really, Republicans and the various branches of the conservative movement – old right, libertarians, business class – “rebranded” the party to remove the Bush legacy. They’d never really wanted to go along with his spending and (in some cases) his wars! But the backlash against Obama created (quicker then we remembered) a Bush nostalgia. As the Tea Party brand took on rust, it’s only natural that Bush get rediscovered.
One nagging problem: The wars. Dick Armey, the former chairman of FreedomWorks, was a little more real than I expected when it came to the long-term value of Bush’s land wars.
“The problems with the neo-cons and with the sort of nation-building notions … they were difficult for most people,” says Armey. “But I do believe that that probably is going to be the Bush presidency’s longest-term hangover. Look at the fact that, today, Iran has a greater influence over circumstances in Iraq than we do. We paid a heck of a high cost to put Iran in such an advantageous position with respect to Iraq.”
Like Charlie Pierce says here, one’s ability to overrate Bush is tied directly to the willingness to absolve him of any disasters that happened on his watch. Start the terrorism clock after 9/11; start the Iraq War clock with the Surge.
“I think the [Jennifer Rubin analysis in the] Washington Post analysis is probably right,” said Tom Woods, Ron Paul’s frequent collaborator in print and other media. “The less we see him, the more people like him. The more you see him, the more you remember what a catastrophic dolt he was. But there are indeed plenty of Tea Partiers who probably kind of like him, partly because he isn’t Obama. I follow someone on Twitter who spent the entire election cycle counting down the days until the principles of the Founding Fathers were restored. She was referring to the the hoped-for election of Mitt Romney. That would bring back Thomas Jefferson. There are a lot of hopelessly confused people like her.”