Quick note about the “Buchanan Vs. Bush” thing: In the comments, there have been a couple of folks who have suggested that it’s not appropriate to start gauging how bad or good Bush is because, among other things, his administration is still in process and because we don’t have sufficient perspective on how his administration has done its job; to get a decent historical perspective we need a decade or so.
Well, here’s the thing. On one hand, this is pretty much correct: A nice, considered historical perspective will take at least a decade; two will be better. On the other hand, who gives a crap? I gotta live with this guy now, and right now, Bush is an awful president (though, as noted before, not as bad as Buchanan). Yes, I may be working from incomplete information about the man is doing; yes, there are things about his presidency that will only be appreciated in the dispassionate light of history; yes, it may turn out he’s not as bad as all that. So what. Here and now, the dude’s an Edsel.
Is it appropriate to judge Bush on an incomplete administration? Sure, why not? Barring impeachment and conviction (ha!) he’s constitutionally guaranteed to be president through noon, January 20, 2009. But, you know, he could die any time. Another unsavory pretzel incident, perhaps. A stroke, brought on by contemplating his approval numbers. Presidential assassination is not unknown, although I wish to make it clear that despite my family history I wouldn’t want that for any president, including the present inhabitant of the White House. Should the president die, for whatever reason, before 12pm, 1/20/09, there’s the end of the Bush Administration. Chop, done. Easy to judge. Well, see. Purely as an intellectual exercise, there’s no bar to imagining the administration done today, and judging from what we’ve got so far. And so far: Oy.
Another way to look at it is the baseball metaphor. Yes, you have to play the whole nine innings, but you know what? If it’s the bottom of the sixth and your team is getting pummelled, have you no right to bitch about the bums in the dugout? Have you not seen the capabilities of the starting lineup? While holding out hope for a comeback, can you not already and justifiably have a sinking feeling in the gut? Sure you can. Listen: This is the bottom of the Bush Administration’s sixth inning, and they’re behind, like, 13-0, the players can’t field, the starting pitcher has got a dead arm, and the manager is about to get ejected. If this game were taking place at Dodger Stadium, the parking lot would be dead by now. Even if the boys get a run or two, it’s not too early to see where this one is probably going to go.
Now, like I said: You never know. The Bush Bombers may rally yet, and on January 20, 2009, I’ll have to sit here typing something along the lines of, well, that George Bush sure pulled it out, didn’t he? President Clinton, well, she will have a lot to live up to. But right now? Don’t think so. Because right now, he’s a terrible president.
Just, you know, not as bad as Buchanan.