Monday, December 29, 2008

If the Anti-Bush Tide Turns. Like Matthew Dowd and Harriet Miers, Condoleeza Rice views George Bush more in terms of love than anything else. So, it's not much of a surprise that Condoleeza Rice is defending the Bush presidency by saying that "I think generations pretty soon are going to start to thank this president for what he's done. This generation will . . ."

Personally, I don't think Rice should hold her breath.

But Rice does raise an interesting question. Conventional historical wisdom rates George Bush as a presidential bottom feeder along with Buchanan, Pierce, and Hoover. How would we know when the tide of judgment is beginning to turn? What would be a sign that historians are starting to look at Bush more like Harry Truman and less like James Buchanan?

Would it be books by well-known conservative historians like Niall Ferguson? Probably not. Writers like Ferguson would come off as being biased towards Bush in the same way that Amity Schlaes' work on the Depression is biased against Roosevelt.

One measure of a turn toward Bush would be the reputation of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. The last generation of historians has stripped the Confederacy of its "Gone with the Wind" aura and the reputation of Jefferson Davis has suffered immeasurably. Just as Abraham Lincoln has been on a reputational escalator going up, Davis has been going down a very steep slope.

And deservedly so.

Besides being Southern by choice, George Bush has many of the same traits that animated the Confederates--an exaggerated sense of his own masculine prowess, a taste for showy aggression, a disdain for knowledge and investigation, and an intolerance for disagreement. Bush has also been a "rebel" against the Constitutional system of checks and balances, international law, regulation of the stock market, the environment, and worker's health.

If Jefferson Davis and the Confederates make a comeback, it's pretty likely that historians will look on George Bush with a kindly eye.

If not, Bush will keep getting what he deserves.

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