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As Obama takes over, a look at Bush’s popularity decline

In exactly one week, the United States of America will have a new head of state.

Incoming President-elect Barack Obama will supersede President George W. Bush, our current national leader, on Jan. 20. Ever since his recent victory in the national presidential election, Obama has occupied the national political limelight, functioning as the topic of much debate and widespread attention as his inauguration date draws near.

With his frequent political statements and speeches to the press, his notably charismatic demeanor and his drastic plans to reform our nation and mend the ailing national economy, Obama is currently the hot topic of many a heated political debate or casual conversation.

But what about ol’ George? He’s not getting any attention at all.

Well, not any good attention, that is.

Ever since entering his “lame duck” year as U.S. president, the hype surrounding Obama (and previously John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Hillary Clinton) has all but caused Mr. Bush to gradually slink into obscurity alongside the rest of our nation’s former leaders.

His tenure as head of state of our nation is at a close, and Mr. Bush will soon enter the annals of history as the retired 43rd president of the United States.

” with a permanently tarnished reputation, that is.

Since mainstream political attention is being directed toward Obama and the promised “change,” which he and his cabinet will bring to this nation, George Bush is left nothing more than the dregs of national media coverage: widespread criticism and a marred legacy.

Whatever one’s political views or opinions on George Bush’s leadership and time as president may be, it cannot be denied that Bush will almost assuredly go down in history as one of our nation’s worst and most unpopular leaders.

I’m not saying these things merely to be harsh on Mr. Bush. I’m saying them because based on his polarizing and controversial actions during his tenure as president, history will not look kindly upon Bush’s legacy.

And yes, I do understand that the president is historically a surpassingly unpopular or popular figure, but recent surveys indicate that Bush may indeed retain his unpopularity throughout history.

In a recent survey of 111 historian scholars to estimate the lasting appeal of Bush’s legacy, the vast majority (109) gave Bush the title of “worst president ever.” Only two described his time in office as a success.

Additionally, a question asked in December by The Wall Street Journal and NBC requested people to compare our current president with those of the recent past in terms of post-presidency approval.

Compared with our two previous national leaders, 48 percent claimed George W. Bush was “definitely worse than most.” 18 percent responded the same way about Clinton, and six percent about George H.W. Bush.

Furthermore, 18 percent stated they would miss Bush as president, while 79 percent indicated they were glad to see his presidency come to an end.

Similar to the ways in which the reputations of former Presidents Warren Harding and Richard Nixon are sullied because of their corrupt actions while holding office, Bush’s legacy will most likely be remembered for the infamous oversea wars he engendered (one of them arguably on false pretenses), astoundingly low approval ratings, tax cuts which predominantly benefit the rich and a dismal and bleak national economy.

These events and happenings will make sure that historical accounts of Bush’s presidency are defined by large amounts of political and social controversy.

Heaped on top of this mess are other questionable acts on the part of Bush, such as his religious-based reasons for justifying the U.S. invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his slipshod policies on environmentalism, his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion for purely religious reasons and his refusal to effectively address the growing problem of worldwide climate change.

And let’s not forget the whole “moon base in 20 years” fiasco. That did not go over very well with the public, as I recall.

Despite his continued support from the conservative Christian sect of Americans, Bush’s approval ratings have still plummeted downhill for the past seven years straight.

Ever since peaking at around 90 percent immediately after the attacks on Sept. 11, Bush’s approval rating now hovers around roughly 25 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This puts Bush on par with Harry Truman and Richard Nixon in terms of public approval, as they are three presidents who have had profoundly low approval ratings upon exiting office. Bush’s mean approval rating for his second term in office falls between those of Truman and Nixon, which clock in at 36 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

History looks kindly upon Mr. Truman, while Nixon’s Watergate scandal overshadows his work done to improve U.S. relations with China.

But things don’t look good for Bush’s legacy.

For Mr. Bush, his more popular policies and actions – taking extensive measures to combat terrorism, for example – are too few and far between to overcome the fact that he is currently, and has been for the past four-and-a-half years, an overwhelmingly unpopular president.

And although approval rating has little to do with one’s effectiveness as president, Bush’s rampant unpopularity and controversial actions will do little to ensure that he goes down in history as a “good” president.

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