The left’s kneejerk propensity for blaming George W. Bush for every disaster, from the Lincoln assassination to a bad hair day, has long served as comedy fodder among conservatives. But the serious psychological disorder known as BDS – Bush Derangement Syndrome – is no joke among President Obama’s faithful, who six years later still cling to the notion that Bush is the reason Obama hasn’t yet shown us the promised land and healed the planet as he promised in his 2008 nomination speech.
Last Tuesday, a bipartisan poll found that Obama’s approval rating has hit an all-time (for him) low of 40%, with his handling of foreign policy at a dismal 36%. And yet, for those of us who consider his presidency to be an unmitigated disaster, it’s difficult to comprehend why his approval rating at this point isn’t at zero. In all seriousness, how is it possible that 40% of Americans can still be giving him a thumbs-up? Obviously there is a variety of explanations: low-information voters, willful blindness, progressive brainwashing, or just plain stubbornness among those who can’t admit that their Messiah is a false prophet. And of course there are those radicals who are simply in ideological lockstep with his agenda. But BDS threads throughout it all; “it’s Bush’s fault” remains an unassailable article of progressive faith – and a very convenient excuse.
In a Fox News segment recently on Obama’s leadership, pollster Frank Luntz spoke with about thirty average citizens, half of whom had been Obama voters, about the President’s sagging numbers in terms of favorability and job approval. The bloom was off the rose for some of the disillusioned participants who had previously supported him, but others among the studio audience still stood by their man. A hardcore supporter with the nametag “Shelton” said he believes Obama “is doing an excellent job, considering the circumstances in which he took the office, and all the things piled on his desk.” In other words, as Shelton put it later, “he’s cleaning up George Bush’s mess.”
Even conceding that GWB did leave behind some serious fires to put out, it’s unclear how creating entirely new conflagrations – encouraging a southern border invasion, imposing upon us a health care leviathan, directly contributing to the “Arab Spring” chaos, alienating our allies and empowering our enemies, exacerbating race relations, dismantling our military, turning the IRS into a political weapon, to name some (but by no means all) – can be considered “cleaning up.” Almost six years into the Obama era, he hasn’t even begun to fix “Bush’s mess” – if anything, he has exacerbated it by overloading our national debt and expanding the NSA surveillance state. Obama isn’t cleaning up the Bush legacy – he is burdening us with his own.
Shelton disagreed: “He’s keeping the country out of war, he’s keeping the economy stable –” At that point Luntz interrupted him to turn to another participant who had been shaking his head in disagreement. When that man pressed him to name even one Obama accomplishment, Shelton again responded, “He’s keeping us out of war! Isn’t that enough?” Well, no, especially considering that he hasn’t done even that. Obama didn’t end the war in Iraq – the troop drawdown was scheduled under Bush, although Obama took credit for ending it until he began to be blamed for leaving a vacuum there for ISIS to fill. And Obama increased the number of our troops in Afghanistan where they are still dying (including a brigadier general, the highest ranking officer to die there); as of last year, we still have nearly twice as many there as when he took office. This is to say nothing of the future wars Obama is courting because he has demonstrated to the world that America under him is weak. This has not gone unnoticed by an empowered, resurgent Russia, China, Iran, and our non-state Islamic enemies. But in Shelton’s mind, Obama ended Bush’s illegal wars and so now “war is over,” as John Lennon sang.
Then a woman in the group urged, “Let’s bring back George Bush. Let’s have a great leader.” The suggestion was like a bomb going off in the studio. “It’s George Bush’s fault!” shouted one man. Shelton jumped in with, “George Bush lied about the Iraq War. He lied, and Barack Obama is getting us out of a mess!” This was the same man who moments before had said that Obama hadn’t lied about Obamacare or Benghazi.
Another woman agreed with Shelton, claiming that “[Obama] can’t clean this up in 10 years, 12 years, 14 years. This takes time. He’s just prepping the next President.” One man who didn’t vote for Obama pointed out, however, that “when Reagan took over from Carter it took him three years, but he solved it. When Clinton took over, he took two years, but he solved it.” The Obama fans didn’t respond – evidently, rather than expect their man to solve problems, they just plan to keep blaming Bush indefinitely, or at least for the next 14 years.
(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 8/11/14)