"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

12.03.2006

love will keep us together

The Post has a series of pieces on the topic: "George W. Bush: What Will History Say?" Here are my thoughts on those pieces, based mostly on my opinion of the pieces' authors:
  • I like Douglas Brinkley. I've heard him speak. He's a great historian and an engaging writer. And he's right that Bush won't go down as the worst American president ever.
  • I don't like Michael Lind. His book was so bad I couldn't finish it. As for his assessment that W. is the 5th-worst president, he's not being fair to Madison, because he's looking at 1812 America, a place where security was relatively scarce, through the lens of later history. And I don't like Michael Lind.
  • Eric Foner is a good historian. I think he's overdoing it a bit, but what else would you expect from someone who teaches at Columbia?
  • I've never heard of Vincent J. Cannato. He has a cool name. And he's right to argue that it's way too soon to decide about W's legacy.

As for me, I agree with Cannato and Brinkley that it's too early to really decide. I also think you have to clarify what you mean by "worst president ever." If you measure it in terms of general ineffectiveness, W won't be anywhere near, say, William Henry Harrison. If, however, you measure on the basis of realtive policy successes and failures, he's in trouble.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I'm surprised that Brinkley has jumped on the (absolutely false) bandwagon that gives Ronnie Ray-gun credit for the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. That was brought about by (a) Kremlin incompetence and corruption, (b)Afghanistan as the USSR's Vietnam, (c) indigenous nonviolent movements for democracy throughout the Warsaw Pact at a time when the USSR could not afford to go rushing off and crush all of them like they did the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia 1968. What Reagan gave us was 2 recessions in 8 years, dozens of indicted people in his cabinet for corruption, Iran-Contra, and numerous times of coming within seconds of global nuclear war.

Madison, the great architect of the Republic was a much better president than Lind says, although better in other roles than as president.

I think Bush is very near the bottom. And no wonder, he's nearly brain-dead, was never really elected, and follows whatever Cheney wants.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 9:28:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Michael,

I'm no fan of Ronald Reagan (mainly due to what his policies did to the working and non-working poor), but I think most historians and political scientists (even the ones who hate him) now agree that Reagan's recognition of Soviet weaknesses and his decision to treat Gorbachev as an ally and not a flat-out enemy ("evil empire" rhetoric nonwithstanding) had a lot to do with ending the Cold War peacefully.

At any rate, we'll have to wait and see how history judges W. Truman was pretty unpopular at the end of his term, but he's awfully popular today.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 11:19:00 PM

 

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