4.05.2007

The Losing Presidencies of Bush I & II


Wow! It looks like it has taken GWB about 5 years to match his dad's achievement. Both presidents George Bush managed to start with OK approval ratings (mid-50's), realize huge positive spikes in 'war-time' favorability (75%+), and then see their poll numbers and presidencies utterly collapse.

It's as if the Bushes can only do one thing. Bush Senior successfully took back Kuwait from Sadam and then proceeded to squander the public's support by coasting. Bush Junior successfully took Iraq from Sadam and then he proceeds to coast as well. The only difference is that Junior's initial combat victory was followed by an incredibly costly and disastrous occupation. But in neither case did these presidents attempt much more than their wars.

(BTW: I believe that the Clinton presidency was largely a failure as well. But the public seems to have appreciated that administration's efforts to address more than one problem--even if their solutions sometimes failed.)

Isn't there a lesson here for future U.S. presidents?

Chart: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press