Another excellent video feature from the YouTube channel Renegade Cut examining recent attempts by some moderate conservative leaders and commentators in the United States – and their nominal opponents in the liberal establishment – to rehabilitate the troubled presidency of George W Bush in the early 2000s, presenting his two terms in office as an exemplar of traditional, mainstream centre-right government. This is held in contrast to the supposedly aberrant hard-right administration of Donald Trump and the ideological cartel that has coalesced around him and his family since 2016.
This is something that sort of happens. In the late, late Reagan era and soon after his death there was a bit of a push to rehabilitate Nixon…..it didn’t stick. Efforts to put Carter in a better light starting in the late Clinton era mostly only convinced fairly liberal people…..the hard right never bought into it.
So I don’t see a successful rehabilitation of George W. Bush as likely. It’s a typical pattern for an unpopular President’s party to try, after the next member of their party has been in office a bit. I personally don’t think they are going to convince anyone who wasn’t fairly prepared to be convinced in the first place. My experience as an anti-war protester with regards to the Iraq is that a very large number of people were against the Iraq War, but wouldn’t do what I was doing…they had been convinced that protesting would not change the outcome but do terrible harm to the soldiers fighting…and while I’m still a bit mad at these folks, i don’t see them buying into a “Dubya Rehabilitation”.
One book that sort of makes sense of what has happened since the late 1960’s is “The Long Southern Strategy” by Angie Maxwell. While I don’t entirely agree with the way she frames the “three pillars of the long Southern Strategy” she argues that it was more mutlilayered than has been acknowledged. Basically one “heart and soul” issue that gets missed (especially these days) is that the large majority of Southern White Women are strongly anti-feminist-and I mean to a degree that would make Eamon DeValera look like Gloria Steinham- in a way that sets them apparent radically from all other subsets of American women. To the point where non-Southern white women and Southern white women are so different from each other in terms of their views of gender that the East German vs. West German gap soon after reunification would pale by comparison. Mrs. Maxwell does make the case of this attitude as a sort of missing link if you will between the post Civil Rights backlash and the politics of Bush supporters turned Trumpies. (despite Trump’s troubling personal behavior).
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Looking at the picture it’s difficult to believe that Trump’s mother was one Mary MacLeod, a first language Gaidhlig speaker from the Island of Lewis.
When seriously ill in her final days in a New York she reverted to her first language where reportedly an Irish speaking nurse was able to communicate and help tend to her.
Utterly difficult to think that her son is half Celt with full first cousins over here.
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As George Carlin said “It’s a big club and YOU ain’t in it!”
Bush is far from the first rehabilitated US presidential monster. Kennedy challenged Carter because of his support for the brutal dictators Somoza in Nicaragua and the Shah in Iran (check out Carter’s birthday toast to the Shah on youtube) and in general being a right wing DLC tool in the same vein of Clinton and Obama.
The only reason Nixon was never rehabilitated (even as Kissinger has been) was because everyone was united in really hating the guy.
But, on the bright side, Andrew Jackson is finally coming up for revision.
Nixon and Andrew Jackson were never all the rehabilitated!!!
That’s right, neither were rehabilitated.
Yeah, now that you mention it, if Kissinger can be rehabilitated then anyone can. And let’s not kid ourselves, Dubya is well on his way. I’ve lost count of the news reports and pics over the last few years of him sitting side-by-side, and joking along, with what passes for liberals in the US. Even Trump will probably be rehabilitated, at least to a degree, just as soon as a greater monster comes along. I would take slight issue with the notion that Nixon was never rehabilitated – I seem to remember him being lauded for his China interventions.
I would say no. People acknowledge some things like China or inception of the EPA. However, that doesn’t mean Cambodia, Watergate, the whole thing with Ellsberg and Pentagon Papers and all that is forgotten and forgiven.
Acknowledging that not everything he did in office was an evil, is a far cry from being “rehabilitated”…you don’t have to see anyone as being off whole cloth.
I’m of one with you on that, Grace. Well, nearly. 🙂
I don’t believe there is such a thing as a person who is entirely “good”. And I don’t just mean that everyone makes mistakes. I think we all have some less than “good” aspects to our character – some people with more of these, and more pronounced forms of these, than others, of course. However, on the flip side of that, I do believe there is such a thing as entirely “bad” people. People who possess not a single redeeming feature. I believe Trump to be one such person. So in that sense we can consider some people (a thankfully tiny number) of being of a whole cloth.
Agree with you both on that.
Aye but his China FP was during his presidency, not after he resigned. There’s an anecdote of of living US presidents attending funeral and all of them, Dem/Rep, were united in bitching about Nixon.
Of course Trump will be rehabilitated, if Reagan can be, anyone can. In 40 years time a Trump supporter will be running for the Dem nomination, just as a Reagan supporter is doing today.
I know, but I was referring to his 1976 visit to China, during and after which he was widely lauded. This was probably the first step on his road to rehabilitation.
I don’t see Trump, Nixon, or Dubya ever being remembered as good or even OK Presidents.
Nixon’s resignation, Bush dumb invasion of Iraq, and Trump’s behavior will all be remember in a negative light.