Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oh, good Lord -- are we getting another story about President I-Don't-Govern-Based-on-Public-Opinion and his desperate need to speculate out loud about how he'll be judged by history?

Yup, from Reuters:

In the Lincoln Bedroom, President George W. Bush likes to show off one of the most treasured historical artifacts in the White House, a handwritten copy of Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg Address.

...The Queen's Bedroom offers memories of Winston Churchill, who stayed there before and after World War Two, as Bush told C-SPAN, "waddling around ... with a cigar in one hand, a brandy in the other, demanding attention."

...The president believes it will take some time to determine his place in the pantheon of presidents, despite the negative assessments some historians have already made.

...Bush, a Republican, sees historical parallels in Democrat Harry Truman's presidency....

Yeah, yeah, we get it -- Truman was hated during his presidency and is well regarded now. Ditto for Churchill: We know, we know -- he was voted out of office after World War II. The public isn't always right! Not that Bush cares about any of that, of course....

I know the stories of Churchill and Truman give Bush and his fan club hope for his vindication by history, but Bush and the fans seem to be suggesting that negative assessments during one's own time are routinely reversed by history. Let me disabuse them of this notion by throwing out a few names:

* Joe McCarthy

* Lyndon Johnson

* Richard Nixon

The consensus on these guys really hasn't changed in (respectively) thirty, forty, and fifty years. (Yeah, people now accept that Nixon on domestic issues was to the left of every president since Reagan -- but that hasn't removed the stench of Watergate and the war, and thus hasn't changed his standing one iota.) So there's no reason for Bush and the Bushites to think a reassessment is inevitable -- it simply isn't.

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