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Bush Legacy Watch

Todd J. Gillman writes in the Dallas Morning News: "The Bush legacy-protection machinery isn't in full gear yet. But it's getting there, with former aides gathering online to share talking points and swap spin.

"'We were there. And as members of the team, we know the difference between rumor, reality, fact, and fiction. This is our chance to stand up, speak up, and set the record straight,' says the Web site dedicated to the task.

"The Bush-Cheney Alumni Association Web site,, appeared last week as a link from the Web site of the George W. Bush Foundation, which is raising funds to build the Bush presidential library and policy institute at Southern Methodist University.

"Bush critics warned from the outset that the SMU project could stray from biography and academics into hagiography and polemics. The reams of laudatory press clippings loaded on the alumni site, with nary a naysayer to be found, might prompt an 'I told you so.'...

"The site's offerings include reprints of Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey's critique of the Obama economic stimulus plan ('As crafted, it is unlikely to produce the desired results') and a tart assessment from Bush political guru Karl Rove suggesting a 'perpetual campaign' mentality at the new White House."

In a likeminded Wall Street Journal opinion column, Dorothy Rabninowitz warns darkly that Obama's "trumpeting declarations to the world that new leadership had now come to the United States, that we were now a nation worthy of the world's trust -- those speeches suggesting that after years of darkness America had now been rescued, just barely, from the abyss -- will be in the end this president's Achilles' heel. Those are not, Mr. Obama may discover, tones that wear well in the course of a presidency."

But taking a somewhat more critical view of Bush's legacy, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers writes for about his insistence on a full reckoning of the Bush administration's excesses: "If we move on now without fully documenting what occurred, without acknowledging the betrayal of our values, and without determining whether or not any laws have been broken, we cannot help but validate all that has gone on before. If we look at the Bush record and conclude that the book should simply be closed, we will be tacitly approving both the documented abuses and the additional misdeeds we will have chosen to leave uncovered."

The New York Times editorial board writes: "On the campaign trail, Barack Obama was skeptical of sweeping claims of executive privilege. We hope that he will show the same skepticism now that he is in the White House. The scandals of the Bush Justice Department will not be put to rest until all of Mr. Bush's aides who have been subpoenaed provide Congress with the information it needs, in public and under oath.

Ryan J. Donmoyer writes for Bloomberg with another bit of the Bush legacy: "The average tax rate paid by the richest 400 Americans fell by a third to 17.2 percent through the first six years of the Bush administration and their average income doubled to $263.3 million, new IRS data show."

Meanwhile, Jennifer Loven writes for the Associated Press that "there are plenty of signs that Team Obama is more than a little preoccupied with Bush — with avoiding his mistakes, reversing his policies in a daily drumbeat of events, and with getting as much political mileage as possible from coded but clear shots at the unpopular ex-president...

"'Yes, Bush is unpopular. But he's unpopular because the policies weren't right,' said White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. 'What people want a change from is not theoretical.'"

And Joanna Molloy and Meredith Kolodner write in the New York Daily News: "Will Ferrell's spoof of former President George Bush may be the hottest ticket in town, but it's a lap-dancing Condoleezza Rice - and her red panties - that steal the show."

By Dan Froomkin  |  February 2, 2009; 12:16 PM ET
Categories:  Looking Backward  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama Aces Super Bowl Prediction
Next: First Promise Broken


"...A tart assessment from Bush political guru Karl Rove suggesting a 'perpetual campaign' mentality at the new White House."

That's a good one, Mr. Rove. Coming from the man who helped create the atmosphere of perpetual campaign in the White House. As well as crafting assessments of the new administration less than two weeks into its term, coming from the old administration that feels 8 years of assessing isn't enough, and that history will judge it more fairly generations down the road.

Posted by: mikecub | February 2, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Ryan J. Donmoyer writes for Bloomberg with another bit of the Bush legacy: "The average tax rate paid by the richest 400 Americans fell by a third to 17.2 percent through the first six years of the Bush administration and their average income doubled to $263.3 million, new IRS data show."
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Which is another way of saying that their taxes paid went up by 40% or approximately $13M or approximately $13.1M apiece. Heh, Bush fleeced 'em didn't he?

Posted by: ZZim | February 2, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, isn't this the same Bush who kept telling us that no real judgment of his legacy could be performed until long after he's dead?

And yet just two weeks later, it's time for his people to proclaim judgment. And oddly enough a furiously positive one.

Oh, I see: we must wait decades for a critical judgment. A sycophantic song need not wait. No contradiction at all, right?

Well you just keep telling yourselves that, Bushies. The rest of the country is not greatly moved, history will speak for itself, and talk is cheap. Just ask anyone in New Orleans.

Posted by: jpk1 | February 2, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

In another apparent contradiction, the same Bush who wants SMU to inform future generations about the facts, somehow doesn't want Roves to tell us facts under oath. Ah, to resolve this, we need only believe that Rove is more factual when he's not under oath.


You know, I remember when SMU was a University. Not just called itself that.

Posted by: jpk1 | February 2, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

If you haven't seen one of the richest pieces of drivel from the Bush Legacy/Stop Obama Project, check out Saturday's Wall Street Journal, where Peter Berkowitz describes the pathological hatred of the liberals toward GWB, and how it blinds them to the successes of the Bush years. Let me see if I have this right. After spending 8 years trying to nail Bill Clinton--who provided enough fodder for moral outrage but left office with a high public approval rating, a budget surplus, America in high regard around the world, some hope of peace in the Mideast etc. etc.--and then another 8 years demonizing him and his wife, Republican spinmeisters are berating us for blindly hating George Bush. You don't have to hate GWB personally--though there are plenty of reasons to hate this All-Hat-No-Horse Cowboy--to be glad to see him gone.

Posted by: gratianus | February 2, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

It really is amusing to watch the press report on Bushies claiming Obama is doing the exact same things as Bush did, except that when Obama does them, they are crimes. What is not amusing is to watch the press report this with no hint of irony.

Posted by: davidbn27 | February 2, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Someone should tell Conyers that he had the last two year for open season on the Bush administration handling of the war and other matters.

Technically, Mr Conyers, your talk and no action was tacit approval of everything done. Congress does have the power to take the administration to task for over-stepping its bounds, if so proven. Its called check and balances. By holding hearings after the fact, you are just conducting a dog-and-pony show for your base and nothing more will happen beyond said hearings.

Posted by: alutz08 | February 2, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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