Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 3, 2008

THE BUSH LEGACY PROJECT.... George W. Bush recently took a lackadaisical attitude when it comes to his role in history, telling ABC News, "I don't spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don't worry about long-term history, either, since I'm not going to be around to read it, but, look, in this job you just do what you can."

Putting aside whether the president actually believes this -- Adam Serwer makes the case that Bush is "blatantly lying" with his casual approach to his place in history -- Bush seems to have some friends who remain very much concerned about his legacy. The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes noted on CNN yesterday:

"[T]here's an ongoing Bush legacy project that's been meeting in the White House, really, with senior advisers, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes has been involved, current senior Bush administration advisers and they are looking at how to sort of roll out the president's legacy."

I'm at a bit of a loss trying to imagine what the "Bush legacy project" hopes to accomplish. After Ronald Reagan left office, some Republican sycophants crafted the "Reagan legacy project," which existed to convince policy makers to name airports, bridges, highways, and schools after the 40th president. (They also pushed to see Reagan's face on dimes and Mount Rushmore.) For reasons that I'll never fully understand, the project met with considerable success.

But a Bush legacy project? Rove, Hughes, and others are going to spend time on an organized national campaign to convince Americans that Bush really was great, despite what we might believe? (Recommended slogan: "George W. Bush: Not Quite as Humiliating as Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.")

We'll see how this turns out. With a lot of hard work and creative spinning, maybe the legacy team can get Bush's approval rating back up above 25%. I'm skeptical, but hey, dare to dream.

Update: The Washington Times has this headline today: "Rove: Bush hardly worst president." Now there's a legacy builder.

Steve Benen 2:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (47)

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It gives Bush something to do while he sits on his hands regarding the economy bleeding thousands of jobs a week.

What a moral leper this guy is.

Posted by: rewind on December 3, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Pierce and Buchanan will not let you rest again until you apologize.

Posted by: dr. bloor on December 3, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

There was a proposal on the San Francisco ballot last month to name a sewage plant after George Bush, but unfortunately it lost.

Posted by: wahoofive on December 3, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't enough to name sewage plants and landfills after him?

Let's hope there's never a movement to push to name an aircraft carrier after him--although the fact there's already a George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier is enough to stop the Navy from having two USS Bushes in service.

Posted by: gang green on December 3, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

hey, maybe putting Bush's face on Mount Rushmore might be a way to create jobs.

Posted by: KP on December 3, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I want to be the first to whiz in the George W. Bush public toilet.

Posted by: Mark on December 3, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Where the hell is Hayes' counterpart from the left on Wolfie's show?

Posted by: RollaMO on December 3, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ramesh Ponnuru will be writing another book.

Posted by: Brojo on December 3, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"...they are looking at how to sort of roll out the president's legacy."

Maybe in a dumpster?

Posted by: tamiasmin on December 3, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

a line from an old bob dylan song springs to mind: "there's no success like failure, and failure's no success at tall."

Posted by: mellowjohn on December 3, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Name the prison at Gitmo after him.

Posted by: Aaron on December 3, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

not fair to compare bush with pierce and buchanon. they sat on their hands as events not of their doing swirled around them. bush was equally ineffective, but he helped make much of the mess he's leaving the country.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on December 3, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Ya gotta love the right-wing sycophants for their consistent talents. They may screw up the government, create a world wide depression, reaffirm racism and theocracy, and play "Ben Dover" to the rich, but irrespective of those little foibles, they've always been great at making monuments to themselves and their cronies.

Posted by: -jlinge- on December 3, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I suggest "Bush may have screwed up every aspect of the country, but if you try really hard, you might be able to imagine something worse" as his legacy statement.

Posted by: JoeW on December 3, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Adam Serwer makes the case that "blatantly lying" about casual approach to his place in history --

We know he's telling the truth when he says he won't be reading the history!

Posted by: martin on December 3, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

my fave part of the hayes quote is "sort of"

sounds like they're a little less enthusiastic/convinced then they should be..

gung-ho is what's needed here...just like in iraq...if we just WISH stronger long enough
sh!t's gonna work out...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on December 3, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"The Fuehrer was a great dancer".

Posted by: JL on December 3, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

The Treasury could print some really neat looking IOU's with W's mug on them.

Posted by: the seal on December 3, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

I propose renaming "Hooverville", "Bushtown" -- that will make a suitable legacy.

Posted by: Jay B. on December 3, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

In addition to sewage plants and landfills, perhaps a number of homeless shelters should be named for him. Also the old idea of "Hoovervilles" could be upgraded to "Bushvilles."

Maybe there is a lost swamp somewhere in Florida, Louisiana or East Texas that needs a name. "Bush memorial lost swamp" sounds right. Since the Southeast Texas swamp country is not known, it could actually be a way to get out the word of its existence. That would be the single positive thing "Shrub" ever did.

Posted by: Rick B on December 3, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Name the prison at Gitmo after him."

That's a good idea. Name it after Bush, then shut it down.

Posted by: Rick B on December 3, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

To be the absolute worst President ever would take some effort. Rules out Bush right there.

Could we name a N.O. levee after him?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on December 3, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bush was at an Army base last week (Ft. Cambell maybe I can't quite recall) and some of the highlights were that he told the soldiers they were "fighting terrorists in Iraq so that they wouldn't be fighting them in America."

Look for this to get repeated in the weeks and months ahead.

It's not so far fetched that another terrorist attack will occur. by conservative math 9/11 was Clinton's fault. Will the next one be Bush's? It will take conservatives all of about .000000000001 second to politicize an attack if it should occur and use it to rewrite history and project power in the future. I tend towards conspiracy so it wouldn't surprise me if an attack were allowed to occur that Republicans could then exploit.

Posted by: grinning cat on December 3, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

See that 25% approval rating. I read in late October that excluding Republicans, King George had a 10% Approval rating among Democrats and Independence.

10%! Think about that Rover!

Posted by: barkleyg on December 3, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

They are going to try and do to the Bush presidency that the south did for the Civil War (or whatever you call it). The North may have won the guns and bullets war but after Reconstruction, the South won the PR war.

Posted by: ET on December 3, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

His legacy is all around us: collapsed levies, shuttered companies, foreclosed homes, empty factories, shattered families... his may be the first legacy that exists only in the vacuum of what it has destroyed. In that spirit, lexicographers should now spell "bushwhacked" with a capital "B."

Posted by: gradysu on December 3, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Erasmus already summed up the Bush legacy quite nicely several hundred years ago:

"It may be that the whole purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others."

Posted by: Stefan on December 3, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

How about some audio-animatronic statue at DisneyWorld, say in Fantasyland. It would probably be more lifelike than Bush, but it would help preserve the idea that he was President Puppet. And they could include a feature where visitors could choose their favorite "Bushism."

Posted by: Greg Worley on December 3, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

This kind of fits the BushCo MO:

There is no actual, earned, positive legacy, so...

you just get some political operatives to make one up for you.

Compare and contrast this with Obama:

The real accomplishments of his campaign and transition team before he is even inaugurated form a legacy that is globally recognized and celebrated. Unless Obama's legacy is only going downhill from here, he's already out-done Bush by orders of magnitude (now there's a shocker).

Obama may be benefiting from a phenomenon similar to the mood immediately after 9-11, only this time it's a financial disaster, and it's not happening on Obama's Presidential watch (like 9-11 did on Bush's clueless watch and, oh yeah that's right, the financial meltdown also happened on Bush's watch).

Posted by: klevenstein on December 3, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

How about "Tippacanoe and W too"?

Posted by: Catfish on December 3, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

"There was a proposal on the San Francisco ballot last month to name a sewage plant after George Bush, but unfortunately it lost."

That was a totally unjustified and insulting proposal.

Sewage treatment plants reduce the amount of crap in the world. To name one after Bush would have been an insult to the sewage treatment plant and its staff.

Posted by: Sock Puppet of the Great Satan on December 3, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

We could renamed Gitmo the "George W. Bush Hellhole."

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 3, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we could name a new brand of "white-out" after him? The sell-by motto could be: "Goes on with ease and covers all errors with a single application"...

Posted by: exlibra on December 3, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Rove's legacy could likely end with "GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS ON THE U.S. ATTORNEY SCANDAL...." or one would hope... .

Posted by: disparu on December 3, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Catfish, don't be so hard on ol' Tippecanoe. He caught pneumonia at his inauguration and was very sick for the few weeks before he died, so we have no real idea what kind of president he'd have been. (If he picked Tyler for his VP then OK, he wouldn't have been very good, but I don't know if the presidential candidate picking the VP candidate was the custom in the Whig party back in...1840, I believe.)

Posted by: DavidNOE on December 3, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I remember when my home city, Cincinnati, changed the Cross County Highway to the Ronald Reagan Highway. I started avoiding it whenever I could, which is too bad because it was in a good place for the routes I took. I've never understood the Saint Ronny mindset. I think eventually history will show him and his legacy to be highly detrimental to our country and our legend. He will be the one who took government from being "we the people" to being some subversive "them". Whole generations have discarded participatory government - also called democracy. It is the root of the problems that we have today.

Luckily Obama is working to put the "WE" back into our government. Every other candidate, on both sides, spoke of what THEY could do for US. Obama talked about what WE could do together.

That WE-NESS is the heart of America. When the right wingers destroy that with their myths of hardy individualism they destroy America. Daniel Boone, one of our icons of individuality, was, without his community, dead many times over.


Posted by: Ed D. on December 3, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.
And, Bush legacized while America melted.

Posted by: Marko on December 3, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Just like Bush, don't let history decide, force lies into history.

Posted by: Zli on December 3, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Humm... well... Prez Bush might do well to remember that as Ortega-y-gassett said, "history is an enthusiastic attempt to resurrect the past." No matter what Rove or his history changing minions create, they have no say in the manner of by whom they are revived and no say in the way they will be judged. I would think, they should enjoy life while they can rather than shorten it with the stress of worrying what those in the "furure" will think.

Posted by: Kurt on December 3, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

With Karen Hughes on board, this is destined to be a smashing success! If she can match her peerless work rehabilitating America's image among Muslims in the Middle East, George W. Bush's place in history is secure!

Posted by: bobbo on December 3, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Following the lead of the Reagan Legacy Project, I can think of a couple of failed levees and at least one collapsed bridge. Or how about the building that houses FEMA?

Posted by: Glen on December 3, 2008 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

The notion of "rolling out" a legacy makes me feel like I've crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

It's like a legacy is the political equivalent of New Coke.

Posted by: Paul Camp on December 3, 2008 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

It's interesting Boy George likes to pretend he doesn't worry, and has no worries.

All you have to do is look at his face - he has lost his youth looking features to look older than Harry Reid,imagine 8 years of inner hell this man has suffered. He lies, but the face and eyes tell it all. I think the inner hell he suffered is that no one likes him.

As far as naming anything after him, or putting his picture somewhere, the best we could do is put it on t-shirts.

Posted by: Annjell on December 3, 2008 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Shredding evidence of war crimes. That would be George W. Bush's kind of legacy.

Posted by: Ross Best on December 3, 2008 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Instead of being discharged with disgrace when they get caught in the act, gay soldiers should be quietly discharged with honors and receive the George W. Bush medal in the for the bargain.

It's not the optimal solution, but it's one step along the road to tolerance.

Posted by: Mr. Awful on December 4, 2008 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

When Rove says something, you can always bet the opposite is true. So yeah, Bush is clearly the worst President in history. I might make an exception for quasi-president Jefferson Davis. He had some Andersonville issues. But Bush has so clearly blown away the opposition. Like I said on an earlier thread: He diminished everything he touched, and touched himself frequently with the Constitution.

Posted by: Sparko on December 4, 2008 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK


I stand corrected. :-)

It is like the quote from "A Fish Called Wanda", "... calling you stupid is an insult to stupid people ..." So with that in mind, I will refrain from comparing W to anyone. :-)

Posted by: Catfish on December 4, 2008 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK



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