Monday, April 22, 2013

Why George W. Bush Was Such A Bad President

Over at his blog, political scientist Jonathan Bernstein made a great point about why George W. Bush turned out to be such a disaster as President.  Bernstein argues that:
George W. Bush's presidential library is about to open, and so we're getting Bush stuff all over the press, such as this National Journal piece on Bush's "Reluctant Re-Emergence on the Political Scene" with a subheadline that "these days he's more interested in painting, golfing, and enjoying time away from politics."

Which makes me cranky because as far as I can see, he was always more interested in golf, baseball, and pretty much everything except the world of public affairs.

Oh, I think he enjoyed the game of electoral politics (is it too mean to say that he enjoyed it especially when he was winning? Perhaps). As Richard Ben Cramer taught us, the Bush family is nothing if not competitive. But beyond that? I find it very, very, easy to imagine that he paid little attention to public affairs either before or after his political career.

And I think that's highly unusual for politicians, and pretty much unheard of for presidents.
I've written about this before, specifically explaining George Bush's failures as being due to character flaws like being "incurious" is not the write way to think about it.  n this post I think that Bernstein really gets to the heart of matter.  That is, Bush was never interested in public affairs to begin with, and as a result his leadership always revolved around attempting to "win" in the short term, with little regard for the long term impact of his decisions and policies or the larger questions about the purpose of politics in the first place.


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