Silent Archimedes

Striking similarities between the two Bush presidencies

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 23, 2008

You would think that after the elder George Bush presidency ended in such economic turmoil and low approval ratings that the country would think twice about picking another Bush as president. Well, it happened. As the younger Bush’s two-term presidency comes to a close this year, one can’t help but look back at the eight years of chaos and controversy to see striking similarities between the two presidencies.

George H.W. Bush George W. Bush
George H.W. Bush George W. Bush

1. Approval ratings – Both Bush presidents saw very high approval ratings in the early part of their presidencies. However, this had more to do with patriotism at the start of wars rather than what the presidents had actually done. This point is supported by looking at Truman’s approval ratings during WWII.

What makes the Bushs similar is the precipitous drop of approval ratings for the rest of their presidencies.  Neither was able to transform early support to long-term success. The elder Bush was unable to transform a very popular and successful Persian Gulf War into domestic success. Note that the graph below shows younger Bush’s lowest approval above 30%. However, many polls had it in the 20s.

Approval Ratings of US Presidents since 1945

Approval Ratings of Past and Current Presidents

Iraq War

Iraq War

2. Iraq War – Both presidencies have been defined by a war in the middle East. Not just any war, but wars led by the United States against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The first Persian Gulf War was highly successful, both in terms of tactical combat and political endearment. The unprovoked invasion of Kuwait by Iraq led to a swift overwhelming response by the rest of the world, including most of the other Middle East countries. The second Gulf War has become a completely different story. A preemptive offensive led by W. and the United States against Iraq for its supposed burgeoning nuclear capabilities has led to far-reaching implications. The evidence for war has since proven highly exaggerated. The complications of ethnic fighting has drawn the war into its fifth year. With recent lowering of violence, the key issue now becomes how long the United States will have a presence in Baghdad.

3. Economic turmoil – The past two recessions in the United States have both been under the Bush presidencies. With a third, and a second in W.’s reign, possibly on the way. Although both have been relatively short, it can be argued that the irresponsible short-term actions of the Feds and Alan Greenspan prematurely moved the United States out of the recessions, but at the expense of future credit.  The Persian Gulf wars also took much needed domestic cash and credit to fund the wars, which led to huge increases in national debt.

Recessions and Job Growth in the U.S.

Recessions and Job Growth in the U.S.

Dan Quayle

Dan Quayle

3. Incompetent vice-president Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney? ‘Nuff said. The first was intellectually incompetent and had the foot-in-mouth disease. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, either one is fine. But potatoe?? What about Quayle comparing himself to JFK during the election campaign? Other funny sayings? “We don’t want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward“, “The future will be better tomorrow“, “I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix“, and “It’s time for the human race to enter the solar system“. Although the country mostly knows him as the vice-president, another interesting question that needed to be asked, what were the people in Indiana thinking electing him to the House in1976 and 1978, and Senate in 1980 and 1986?

Richard Cheney

Richard Cheney

Then there’s Cheney. The ultra-hawk who is more inconspicuous than Ed Harris as a sniper in Enemy at the Gates. Actually, Cheney’s head is just a rounder version of Harris’. Cheney acted like a sniper, incognito, firing barbs from behind the scenes, or inside a bunker. Round after round of incidents, Cheney appeared impervious to controversy. He weathered the weak WMD evidence for attacking Iraq, the CIA leak scandal, the hunting incident, CDC global warming testimony deletions, health problems, and completely elitist, hawkish comments. Both supporters and detractors of Cheney regard him as a shrewd and knowledgeable politician who knows the functions and intricacies of the federal government. This is a major contributor to him weathering controversies.

Can you believe that both Quayle and Cheney were each one incident away from becoming president of the United States?

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

5. The Russian Bear – Both presidents had issues with Russia, although in differing directions. The elder Bush oversaw the end of the Cold War and the deconstruction of the Soviet Union. The younger Bush is seeing the return of the Russian Bear led by former KGB man, Vladimir Putin. As Russia’s fortunes increase due to expansive petroleum exports, it has steadfastly returned to old Moscow traditions and become more emboldened. The recent Russia-Georgia war shows its increasing power to defend and expand its circle of influence.

6. Supreme Court appointments – Both presidents oversaw the appointment of two Supreme Court justices. H.W. appointed David Souter and Clarence Thomas, to replace William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, respectively. W. appointed John Roberts and Samuel Alito to replace William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor. Although Bill Clinton also appointed two new justices, the appointment of four by the Bushs has kept the Supreme Court in a slight conservative slant.

7. Next president is young and new to national scene – If Barack Obama wins the 2008 presidential election, both Bushs will have been succeeded by young Democratic presidents in their 40’s, Bill Clinton and Obama. The Democratic presidents will both be elected on a change platform that invigorated the public. Both will also have been new to the national scene.

With such striking similarities between the Bush presidencies, a lot of people were a bit hesitant to support another candidate, Hillary Clinton, that would have led to comparisons to her husband’s presidency. Had that happened, the United States would have had either a Bush or Clinton in the top two positions of the country for atleast 32 years!

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7 Responses to “Striking similarities between the two Bush presidencies”

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