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   The Difference Between 43 and 44? Not So Much

NEWS INFORMATION

Parent

Parent

News Date

4/25/2013 7:20 pm

Author

James Taranto

Media

Wall Street Journal

Category

Opinion

Database Record

Entered 4/25/2013, Updated 4/25/2013

Original Article

Link

Description

"President Obama was fittingly if uncharacteristically gracious in describing his predecessor on Thursday. Speaking at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Mr. Obama praised Mr. Bush for his "incredible strength and resolve," his "compassion" and his "commitment to reaching across the aisle." "The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George," Mr. Obama recalled. "He knew that I would come to learn what he had learned—that being president, above all, is a humbling job." It might be particularly humbling for the 44th president to reflect on how similar his presidency has turned out to be to his predecessor's. Both enjoyed bursts of popularity early in their first terms—Mr. Bush after 9/11, Mr. Obama immediately upon inauguration. Both soon came down to earth, so that their approval ratings were slightly below 50% by re-election day. Both were underestimated, with their detractors believing wrongly that public rejection of them had reached a tipping point and they could not win a second term. Both defied those expectations by defeating a lackluster challenger from Massachusetts. More significant, both were highly polarizing, at least in the first term. Mr. Bush was as admired by conservatives and loathed by liberals as Mr. Obama is the other way around. In February 2005, just after Mr. Bush's second inauguration, the Federalist Society and The Wall Street Journal conducted a survey in which scholars were asked to rank the presidents. Unlike other such surveys, ours overrepresented conservatives so as to correct for academia's extreme leftist bias."


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