The article reports that a George Mason university poll of 415 presidential historians, in 2004, found that more than half considered it the worst presidency since the Great Depression, and more than a third called it the worst in 100 years. And scores would be even lower if filled in now.
The article reports report that previous presidents have been unpopular while in office, but their final historic image is determined by a few considerations. The article observes,
"In the final analysis, presidents are judged on a relatively narrow set of criteria -- fiscal management, economic stewardship, handling change or crisis at home, and the promotion of America's interests abroad. It all boils down to two questions: how did he deal with the challenges of his day? And were the American people better off at the end of his tenure than they were at the start? No president can claim an unambiguously positive record, but few have come up so short, on so many counts, as Bush has.
Bush doesn't have time to make up for his disaster in Iraq and the huge "spending spree" he's subjected the US economy to.
" His massive tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 have neither sparked the economy nor bolstered his popularity. They have, however, exacerbated a fiscal crisis that threatens to undermine the very basis of the American state. "It used to be a part of the American character to believe in delaying gratification, and saving for the future," (Historian Robert) McElvaine says. "But it seems the future is being ignored in spectacular fashion by this administration."
The article cites David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States,
last November he issued a clarion call to the nation's lawmakers, comparing America's burgeoning deficits and debt to the forces that ultimately toppled the Roman Empire. "There is no question both U.S. government spending and tax cuts are spiralling out of control," Walker wrote. "It's time to get serious about our nation's fiscal future." The numbers he cites are nothing short of staggering.
"Discontent among conservatives has been building for several years," the article reports, citing Stephen Slivinski, director of budget studies at the Cato Institute,
"People thought over the long term he'd try to do some good and Republicans could finally make good on their promises of getting spending under control, but here we are in the second term and that has not materialized," he says. "The dam has just broken."The Bush administration has a standard answer for this critique. In a time of war, they say, budget overruns are the inevitable cost of defending freedom and democracy at home and abroad. But that no longer holds water with Washington's budget hawks. They point out that federal spending has risen by $683 billion a year under Bush, less than a third of which has gone to national defence and homeland security.
As a result, the U.S. national debt has surged from $5.7 trillion in the last fiscal year before Bush took office, to over $8.3 trillion and counting. Brian Riedl, a budget analyst with the right-wing Heritage Foundation, says the Bush administration has played the benevolent uncle to every special interest that comes calling, using its spending power to win support in potentially vulnerable constituencies.
The creation of new jobs during Bush's presidency is another disaster, with Macleans reporting,
Two million new jobs sounds like a lot, but it's the most anemic job creation performance by any president in the postwar era. The gains have also failed to keep pace with the growth of the workforce, and as a result the overall employment rate under Bush has declined from 64.4 per cent to 62.9 per cent. The manufacturing sector has been particularly hard hit, losing 2.9 million jobs since Bush took office, a decline of roughly 17 per cent -- worse than the postwar hangover under Truman, worse than the early '70s stagnation under Nixon, and far worse than the darkest days of Reagan's Rust Belt plant closures. Little wonder that a Gallup poll earlier this year showed more than half of Americans consider the economy only "fair" or "poor," and 52 per cent think it's getting worse.
...A decade of improvements in alleviating poverty have reversed in recent years. While the economy has grown, the poverty rate has risen to 12.7 per cent of the population, the highest level since 1998, representing five million people who have fallen into poverty in five years.
Then there's the global PR disaster Bush has perpetrated for the US "brand." The USA's approval ratings have plunged. Legendary marketing guru Jack Trout observes, " "What do you do to rebuild America's brand and image? When a business has had a bad run and turned off a lot of its customers, they hang out a big sign that says 'under new management.' And we will get nowhere until we have that sign hanging out there."
They cite Dartmouth emeritus professor and presidential historian RObert Dallek, who "says no other president has been so universally reviled around the world as Bush..." and the article observes that "Overall, it's difficult to mount a convincing argument that the world is a safer, more stable place today than when Bush took office five years ago."
Bush's place in history is not set in stone yet. But from the point of view of a friendly neighbor, he is shaping up to what could be the worst president ever.