Today Michael Gerson writes of the "Decency of George W. Bush." The other day, in a similar vein, some jackass argued that George Bush's approval rating of the nation ought to be taken into account–the nation, the American people, have failed Bush. It wasn't Bush after all who lost an election in the popular vote and declared and acted as if he had a mandate, who stocked his cabinet with incompetent cronies, who ignored intelligence that could have prevented 9/11, who squandered the good will of the world on belligerent unilateralism, who invaded a country that had not attacked us with no plan for managing the war's inevitable aftermath, who ate cake with John McCain while New Orleans filled with water. No–all of that must have been the fault of the American people. Worse than that, all of these things must be the fault of Democrats:
Earlier this year, 12,000 people in San Francisco signed a petition in support of a proposition on a local ballot to rename an Oceanside sewage plant after George W. Bush. The proposition is only one example of the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president.
According to recent Gallup polls, the president's average approval rating is below 30% — down from his 90% approval in the wake of 9/11. Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right.
This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."
Not to put too fine of a point on it, but I can't get over how dumb that is. That is, I couldn't get over it until I read something even dumber. Here's Gerson:
Election Day 2008 must have been filled with rueful paradoxes for the sitting president. Iraq — the issue that dominated George W. Bush's presidency for 5 1/2 bitter, controversial years — is on the verge of a miraculous peace. And yet this accomplishment did little to revive Bush's political standing — or to prevent his party from relegating him to a silent role.
The achievement is historic. In 2006, Iraq had descended into a sectarian killing spree that seemed likely to stop only when the supply of victims was exhausted. Showing Truman-like stubbornness, Bush pushed to escalate a war that most Americans — and some at the Pentagon — had already mentally abandoned.
Perhaps Gerson has forgotten–after all, he was just the speechwriter for Bush before and during the Iraq war–that Bush waged the unnecessary (in the sense that all of the justifications offered have turned out not to have been legitimate) war of choice which thrust Iraq into the situation it is now. It's Bush's mess. One he will leave to his successor, President Barack Obama.