3 Reasons Why It Doesn’t Matter if Rick Perry is the New George W. Bush and 1 Reason Why It Does.

Everybody’s atwitter tonight about Rick Perry as the new George W. Bush. Here are four things to remember about Mr. Bush:

  1. He was not running against an incumbent.
  2. His opponent was loathed by the media and treated accordingly.
  3. He lost the election.
  4. He became president.



  1. Shane Taylor August 14, 2011 at 9:37 am | #

    David Frum had a sharp rejoinder to progressives, where he took their favored defense of the White House and turned it against the incumbent:

    Obama supporters complain that many of the weaknesses of the U.S. economy can be traced to Republican obstructionism. The Federal Reserve has failed to act decisively to expand the money supply because Senate Republicans have blocked the president’s Fed appointments.

    The Republican threat to prevent a rise in the debt ceiling frightened bond investors. Republicans now threaten to tighten federal fiscal policy by cutting spending and refusing to extend the one-year payroll tax holiday when it expires at the end of 2011.

    Those Obama supporters have a point, but not the point they want. True, Republicans have not played a helpful role in this economic crisis. But it’s also true that Barack Obama is not the first president in U.S. history to have faced unhelpful opponents. Other presidents have had to overcome opposition to achieve results. If President Obama could not do so, he is unlikely to win many sympathy votes. The electorate will likely instead say: “The job was too tough? Go find a job you can do, and let us find somebody else to deliver the prosperity that eluded you.”

    The Republican candidate might not have a real solution, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t exploit the opportunity.

  2. Corey Robin August 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm | #

    Thanks for the Frum quote, Shane. One of my earliest posts on this blog made this exact point: other presidents would kill for the kind of opposition Obama had. It was precisely that opposition that enabled them to do what they did. Also agree with your comment: my point really is that George W. Bush wasn’t the political paladin people imagine to be; he had many points against him, yet still won. That’s the scary thing.

  3. Shane Taylor August 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm | #

    I should also make a bias clear: I was born and raised in Texas. I only left in 2006. So, there is nothing alien to me about living among American voters who could accept someone like Perry as normal and viable in an election.

  4. Zujaja Tauqeer August 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm | #

    Connecting this post to your earlier Obama post…What’s scarier is that even after Bush the son’s compelling 8-year campaign for the title of Worst. President. Ever., people are now starting to warm up to him. Is that hindsight or revisionism? Seems the Obama era is causing Americans to miss, or more appropriately, see in a more favorable light Bush’s git-r-done/mission-accomplished attitude, however misguided it may have been. And might not that nostalgia turn an otherwise unenviable comparison into an enviable advantage for Rick Perry?

    • Corey Robin August 15, 2011 at 10:19 pm | #

      Good point, Zujaja. I’ve often noticed this pattern whereby some president or figure who was reviled while in office gets remembered as not so bad or even good. And especially in comparison with the president. You might be right about Perry; i wasn’t making any predictions, just noticing some facts.

      • Annie B August 18, 2011 at 8:55 am | #

        Exactly. I was exactly three weeks too young to vote against Richard Nixon in the first election where 18-year-olds could vote (1972). Now I have to pinch myself to recall the revulsion, and long for a president who would propose, as Nixon did, a guaranteed minimum income. And I have to wonder if I can hold my nose long enough to vote for Obama, although the lines might not be that long to vote, even here in Chicago.

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