A CNN poll released Wednesday shows that George W. Bush is not only more popular than President Obama, a majority of Americans now view the former president in a positive light. A full 52% see Bush favorably, compared to just 43% who do not. Only 49% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obama. The same number, 49%, do not.
Obama’s job approval numbers also took a serious dive in the CNN poll. Just last month, the president sat at a 48% approval rating, with just 47% disapproving. Not great, but he was at least above water. Today Obama is upside down a full 7 points, with just 45% approving of his job and a clear majority of 52% disapproving.
That’s an 8 point drop.
On the specifics of his job, other than race relations, Obama is upside down, sometimes by huge margins, in every category: economy 46-53; ISIS 32-63; race relations 50-47; Climate Change 41-49; illegal immigration 36-60; government surveillance 29-67; health care 44-54; foreign affairs 43-55; terrorism 45-51.
Since last month, Obama’s numbers have worsened considerably on the specific issues of ISIS, immigration, and surveillance.
Bush’s favorability increase — his first in positive territory since leaving office — is likely due to two things. First, Bush has been nothing but a class act as a former president. He has stayed out of the public eye, except to further the causes like those of America’s wounded warriors. He’s removed himself completely from politics. People appreciate a class act, and Bush has been nothing but.
Secondly, Bush’s approval numbers were primarily dragged down by the Iraq War. In hindsight, though, the American people are now seeing that conflict now through a contextual prism they did not have before.
As in all wars, major mistakes were made in Iraq. It is only in the television era, especially the 24/7 cable era, that this historical fact of conflict has been turned into something unique and a disqualifier. Nevertheless, Bush won the war in Iraq. The surge won the war in Iraq.
“It’s harder to end a war than begin one. Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq -– all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering -– all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations.
“This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.”
That is not Bush announcing the Iraq War a success, that is President Obama … just before he lost the war in an election year gambit by removing all of our troops, including the kind of stabilizing forces we still have in other countries like Korea and Japan.
Compared to Obama’s handling of foreign affairs, specifically in the Middle East, the Bush-era is getting a second look outside of the unceasing partisan politics and venomous media frenzies that defined his presidency. It was a long tough road to get there, but by the time Bush left office, things were better in the Middle East. The region had stabilized, or was at least stabilizing. Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan were all quiet or at least quieting. Our years-long engagement, sometimes at a terrible price, had made a positive difference.
Obama’s cynical political disengagement overseas has come at an even more terrible price. The region is on fire. Iraq is nearly lost. Libya is a terrorist haven. ISIS is on the march everywhere, especially in Obama’s Iraq vacuum.
War is tough and bloody and difficult and fraught with mistakes. That was true before the television age. It is true now. How would CNN cover an audacious, costly, and largely symbolic Doolittle Raid on Tokyo today? Imagine Lincoln dealing with a Washington Post, New York Times, and Wolf Blitzer in the first few years of the Civil War. It’s only after you remove all the political and media smoke that one can gain a perspective.
That smoke is mostly dissipated, and the American people can now see that things were better under Bush. It was hell to get there but in the end he won his war. Obama is losing everywhere and showing none of the grit to win Bush did at this time in his own presidency.
Obama was supposed to be the cure for all the Bush-era ills. Democrats and the media promised us that.
The American people are now realizing that the so-called cure is much worse than the problem, a problem that, as we can see now, did not need fixing.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC