In the Presidential election of 2004, President Bush received 62,040,606 votes, more than any candidate in any previous election in the United States.
That’s a lot of voters, folks, and a person could even reasonably call that a clear mandate from the voters. Of course, the Democrats denied that there was a mandate, even though Bush’s 47% and 51% share of the Popular Vote were better than the 43% and 49% Clinton earned in his two bids, terms the Democrats were quick to claim as mandates for Clinton’s policies. About that time, opinion polls gave President Bush a 55% support rating.
So, 55% Job Approval was worth 51% in the Popular Vote, and represented over 62 million real, committed votes. But that was then, and this is now, as the saying goes. Bush’s Job Approval has fallen to 33.6% on average, which by my rough math would be 31.2% of the Popular Vote if he was running right now. That meager number, however, still translates into 40.8 million votes. Now that looks to me like a big number, yet the people who support Bush seem to be a very quiet bunch. I’ve worked high school gyms with a few hundred people, and that can get really loud, so I admit it’s very strange to think about 40 million people you never hear. Odd, very odd.
After thinking about it, it seems to me that there is a disconnect going on, that there are a whole lot of people who generally think the President is doing a good job, but they don’t make an effort to stand up for the President in public, out of public expectation, a focus on the 2008 contenders, or perhaps the media – including the blogs – has harassed Bush supporters into thinking there are few of them left, or that their support for the best President between 1989 and 2013 is somehow wrong. Certainly, there has been a real push to silence Bush supporters. It’s no shock to hear that the Democrats are still running against Bush, but it appears a number of Republicans are, as well. Mitt Romney, who is leading in delegates just now, made a point of distancing himself from President Bush just before the Iowa caucus. Romney’s opinion on the war in Iraq followed his demand for Bush’s intervention in the housing market, and back in November Romney was blaming Bush for not being more “bipartisan” on Social Security reform and Medicare, and Romney stridently declared “We must change course, and we're going to.”
McCain, as is well known, blames President Bush for freeing Iraq when he could have been chasing Osama all over hill and dale. McCain also blamed President Bush for not falling for the Global Warming scam, and let’s not forget how McCain felt about supporting Bush’s conservative judicial appointments.
Then there’s Mike Huckabee. The Huckster was honest enough to admit he has no foreign policy experience, but then immediately trashed the President’s Iraq decision and mocking Bush’s attempts to reform Social Security. MSNBC even noted that Huckabee is far more respectful to Senator Clinton than he is to President Bush.
So, the three GOP candidates who have won primaries so far have all copied the Left in hating Bush. They plainly believe that America needs BDS. Personally, I think that is a very bad mistake, and Bush-hate will, in the end, hurt candidates rather than help them on the national scale. This is partly because I do not think that most voters want to support someone based largely on hating their opponent, or on personal attacks against people who did their best to do the job, but I also think those Bush supporters still matter. No, there's not 62 million of them these days; some lost confidence in the President, some were as inconstant as the wind, and some have allowed themselves to believe the lies of the Bush-haters. There may not even be the 40 million evidenced by the President's Job Approval numbers, but we exist, and we matter.
Certainly, President Bush has made mistakes. He took the wrong side on a number of issues, and he took advice from the wrong people on some things. As a result, Immigration Reform is still a horrid mess even though Bush has spent more on Border Security than any prior Administration, and introduced more new programs to keep out and catch illegals (US-VISIT, SBInet, CBP Fugitive Pursuit, CBP Air & Marine, IAFAS, ICE, and two new academies for intelligence and border security tactics). He made the mistake of trusting Senator Kennedy to keep his word, and so NCLB became a political football. He trusted the system at FEMA too well and so was caught by surprise when FEMA as well as the local and state officials in Louisiana failed to do their jobs during Katrina. And President Bush trusted the CIA and the State Department too much in the work-up to the invasion of Iraq. But he made no more mistakes than other President, and far fewer than most, especially in the context of national needs. Every President makes mistakes, even Reagan (remember the Beirut pull-out and Sandra Day o'Connor and the 1986 Amnesty?). The matter is best understood in the full context of the work done.
Going in Afghanistan and Iraq was the right thing to do. Both nations are far more stable and prosperous than they could ever have become without American intervention, and the region is more stable with U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, than it could ever be if the U.S. had refused to act;
The Bush tax cuts were exactly the right response to the 2001 stock crash, and the further cuts were the right move to increase federal revenues while correcting rate imbalances (another reason it was a good idea to elect an MBA, rather than just another lawyer);
Despite the controversy over Miers, Bush's judicial picks have been consistenly excellent, from his two SCOTUS nominations to his federal postings;
Bush did not succeed in getting Congress to reform Social Security, but he was the first President to make a real effort to change course from that coming disaster;
Bush brought together a Coalition greater than the one his father created in 1990, and Bush used that Coalition not only to defeat the Taliban and Saddam, but also to influence the Syrian, Iranian, and Libyan regimes to make significant changes in their military policy, and in Libya's case the abolition of their WMD programs.
There's more, since we are talking about 7 years of work, but the point is clear that President Bush has done a very good job, and has earned our thanks and respect. I cannot help but wonder, however, how many among us are willing to grant him that appreciation and the credit for his accomplishments. Few indeed, of those who speak on television, run for office, or enjoy prominence in the Blogosphere.
I stand with the President, and my vote can be had by those who respect what he has done for America. I think I speak for many others, but that remains to be seen as the primary season unfolds.