GOP attempt to rehabilitate George W. Bush isn’t going to work


With the unveiling of the former president’s official portrait last week, the GOP has apparently come up with another strategy to win the 2012 election: rehabilitate George W. Bush.

Just today, Jeb Bush went on CBS This Morning and said his older brother will be “admired for his determination and fortitude.”

“There’s a fine line between stubbornness and the positive side of that, which is dogged determination,” said Bush, the former governor of Florida.  ”And I think what people will begin to see is that he wasn’t stubborn. He was totally determined and principled about it. And the country was safer because of it. That will be the positive legacy of George W. Bush.”

Bush even said he thought President Obama should give his big brother a “little tip of the hat” for his leadership on national security and foreign affairs.

“I would argue in some ways, by reality seeping into his life as commander in chief, that a lot of [Obama’s foreign policy] is modeled after [Bush] 43,” Bush said.  ”It would be nice — a little tip of the hat would be a nice thing.”

But wait, it was President Obama who tracked down Osama bin Laden and 18 other al Qaeda top commanders and got us out of that mess in Iraq!  

OK, nobody can blame Jeb for sticking up for a family member.  But back in April, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) declared Bush did a “fantastic” job as president.  Really!?!?

Either way, the effort to rehabilitate Bush isn’t going to work.

A brand new (CNN/ORC International) poll shows that even with three-plus years out of office, Bush is the most unpopular living former president, with only 43% of people surveyed with a favorable opinion (54% viewed him unfavorably).

The low positive rating puts Bush far behind his fellow living ex-presidents, including Jimmy Carter (54%), Dubya’s father, George H.W. Bush (59%) and Bill Clinton (66%).

And don’t forget what the experts say about Bush’s presidency.  Three major surveys of presidential scholars, historians and political scientists rank Bush as the second worst president in the past 135 years (eclipsed only by Republican Warren G. Harding who served in the early 1920s).  

Indeed, the Siena Research Institute of Siena College surveyed 238 presidential scholars, historians and political scientists in 2010 and ranked Bush as the fifth worst U.S. president of all-time, behind Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Harding and Franklin Pierce.

We do wish former President Bush all the best personally.  But Republicans should not try to waste time trying to convince the country that it benefited from the Bush presidency.  

Ed will have a lot more to say about the legacy of George W. Bush tonight on The Ed Show at 8pET on msnbc with Joy Reid, Susan Del Percio and Thom Hartman.