Feb 072008
Authors: Joseph Haynie

I distinctly remember getting in an argument with an economics teacher in high school prior to the 2000 elections. He supported Gore, and I supported Bush.

We argued back and forth like playground children trying to convince each other that their dad could beat up the other’s dad. The conversation ended with him telling me that Bush would send the country to hell in a hand basket. I couldn’t reply because he started class.

In retrospect, I wonder if he had the ability to see into the future.

My colleague, Phil Elder, in his article “Reflecting on what Bush has ruined”, presented a laundry list of blunders committed by the 43rd president of the United States. Although the analysis was a bit skewed and over-the-top, there really wasn’t much to refute.

Bush has not practiced fiscal sobriety – leaving future generations with an economy in peril. Recently, because of his support for the McCain-Kennedy Bill – which proposed a temporary worker visa program for illegal immigrants – he has divided his party, setting Republicans against the conservative base. And, he listened to the wrong people when planning a war back in 2002, a mistake which has taken four years and thousands of lives to correct.

Despite his blunders, the President has, however, protected the United States from any attack since the September 11th attacks.

Al Qaeda, at least outside of Iraq, has proved to be like a house of cards, as a majority of its leadership is either dead, captured or on the run. As a result of the War on Terror and the aggressive attacks on Al Qaeda, none of our embassies or military bases in non-combat zones have been attacked as they were prior to the attacks on New York and Washington D.C.

Many cite Bush’s terrible approval ratings as being indicative to his failure as a president. However, approval ratings have shown to mean nothing in the long run.

According to “The Ups and Downs of Presidential Popularity,” by Ron Faucheux, a popular nonpartisan political analyst, Harry S. Truman, while president, experienced approval ratings as low as 23 percent, the lowest rating in history. Yet, many surveys rank him in the top ten presidents of all time.

Bill Clinton, on the other hand, despite being impeached by the House for perjury, left office with high approval ratings. Notwithstanding his popularity, however, he doesn’t crack the top twenty in presidential ranking surveys.

What does all of this mean for Bush? It’s tough to say.

The same rankings have him just behind Clinton. But, these have all been performed while Bush has been in office. Time, if anything is on Bush’s side.

History has a way of clarifying things, as was the case for Truman. Ironically, the further we stand from an event the better we can see it. When the proverbial dust settles and the once fiery passions are pacified a better perspective of past events emerges.

The spectator may now possess more wisdom, maturity and a better understanding of past events presently under evaluation than when they transpired. Just as a game is not over when time is still on the clock, one’s success cannot be determined while one is still engaged in the endeavor at hand.

What kind of legacy will Bush have? Will his administration be deemed a success – or will it be labeled a failure? Have we really gone to hell in a hand basket? That, we do not know.

Legacies, however, are determined after the journey is completed, not just a few miles down the road.

Joseph Haynie is a senior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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