OxBlog

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

# Posted 11:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BEING AN EX-PRESIDENT DOES WONDERS FOR YOUR POPULARITY, TAYLOR: Like Reagan, Clinton left office with extraordinary approval ratings. Much more interesting is how Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush recovered their popularity after leaving office.

This is an especially relevant point with regard to Bush. In 1992, liberals saw him as the embodiment of everything they'd fought against for the past twelve years. Nor had they forgotten his vicious campaign in 1988 against Michael Dukaksis.

At the same time, conservatives profoundly resented Bush for being a weak president defeated by an upstart Arkansan. Yet after eight years of Arkansan government, conservatives had begun to remember the Bush years as a golden age. Many said they wished he was running against Gore instead of his son.

And now, after six years of his son, liberals constantly praise the judiciousness and moderation of Bush pere. Memory, you see, is a very tricky thing.

Or perhaps in Canada they do it better?
(21) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
You're probably too young to remember but there was another Texan in the race, or rather there was a Texan in the race, Ross Perot, who took 19% of the vote. He had a simplistic message of "it's simple" which strangely resonated with the sort of people who voted for his opponent's son.

Also, Bush was not unpopular (56% approval when leaving office) and was not dramatically unpopular with liberals. In 1992 Clinton (no liberal he) maneuvered well to win with a plurality. The economy did suck at the time, and for the re-election of a president who had just won two wars, well one war and a fiasco, Bush ran the worst campaign possible; he barely campaigned at all; it seemed that he thought the election was to be a coronation--that Bush sense of entitlement.

Memory, you see, is a very tricky thing.
 
I wish. We certainly do the same thing. Trudeau and Mulroney being prime examples. Chrétien, however, may prove to be an anomaly, at least thus far. As he ended his in many ways remarkable ten year period as prime minister in a political scandal of historic Canadian proportions, his wide popularity while in office may prove to be overshadowed by the context in which he was dethroned...
 
It shouldn't surprise anyone David. I prefer someone who uses caution when moving forward regardless of their political leanings, rather than someone who behaves recklessly regardless of their political leanings.
 
Carter popular?

Well, perhaps in the sense that he was "kicked upstairs," where, in theory, he can't do much harm. Still, for the past 20-odd years, he's been sounding off like the madwoman in the attic.

Builds nice houses, though.
 
That's a good point about Perot getting 19% of the vote. With Clinton (and Reagan as well), we tend project the results of the candidates second election back onto those of the first election.

I've often wondered if Clinton's election in `92 didn't in part lead the Democratic party to sleepwalk off a cliff. I think many in the DNC took the Clinton presidency to mean that the American people were far more progressive than they actually were. Thus you have legislation like universal healthcare and the assault rifle ban during the first two years of Clinton's first term, after which Democrats lost control of the House. In eight years time they would go on to lose the Senate and the White House.

It's hard to fault the Bush's for thier "sense of entitlement" when at the end of the day, the majority of the electorate is more inclined to side with them rather than the opposition.
 
the assault rifle ban affects a very small part of the population and I would bet no more than 10% of Americans have an opinion on it and 10% of that 10% cares.

Im being a tad extreme...
 
Cmon, what matters about Bush senior is not how many voted for Clinton, but how many voted AGAINST Bush. The Perotistas were people who were enraged against Bush, even though they disliked the Dems. Bush is '92 was tossed out, and certainly was despised by many of the people who are now nostalgic for him.

Even odder is the Reagan nostalgia - we used to think he nearly got us into a nuclear war, but at least he didnt try to reform the Middle East. And he cut social programs, and was ignorant about poverty, but at least he didnt set up faith based programs.

What you have now is a reaction against the current admin, and a grasping at any things that seemed different. Memory really is a tricky thing.
 
"Im being a tad extreme..."

Actually no, I don't think that number is too far off the mark. I don't own a firearm myself, nor do I have much desire to do so. And clearly the ban didn't impact enough voters to have any discernable affect on Clinton's 1996 run. But you have to keep in mind that house races, like gun ownership, vary greatly from district to district. Ten-thousand votes in a western Oklahoma district is a political tsunami. So what we whitnessed through much of the 90's was a shift in traditionally Democratic districts, many of them rural, over to Republican representation. Gun control legislation played a part in this.
 
Your analysis has a fault because you stack up ex-presidents alongside one another, showing them as if on a chart with their post-office approval rates. You don't take account of the way in which the American public is experiencing time. Yeah, Bush Sr. gets a post-presidential boost, but that's because he appears a doddering but slightly saintly grandfather compared to the holy horror now in office. It also has plumped up Bush Sr.'s ratings because he's sidled up alongside Clinton to help with the tsunami. So it's an effect of Bush pere moving slightly more toward the Democrats while Bush Jr. grips the wheel and swings it hard right into a culvert.
 
Being an ex Thai PM does wonders for your popularity.
 
Taylor,

I agree that Canadians tend to view PMs like Trudeau and Mulroney in a better light than when they were in office. It may be too early to tell with Chrétien, but the Gomery Inquiry and subsequent Report certainly took its toll.

I would add, however, one difference between the Canadian experience and the American one. Canadian PMs don't seem to be as visibly engaged in public life after leaving office as former American Presidents.
 
My memory is at least as faulty as the next guy. But the way I remember the Perot challenge, is that he was doing very, very well. So well, that that it looked like he would take it, then he quit the race temporarily and reentered it, thus dashing his chances.

I've always believed he purposely sabotaged his campaign because he never thought he'd get that far and didn't really want to win it. Am I crazy, or does anyone else see/remember it the way I do?
 
I don't think there's been a president since before FDR who didn't become more popular after leaving office.

Which suggests a question: What will people remember most fondly about the current President after his term ends?
 
What will people remember most fondly about the current President after his term ends?

The flowering democracy in Iraq, the beacon of freedom in the Middle East that Halliburton built.

It's hard to fault the Bush's for thier "sense of entitlement" when at the end of the day, the majority of the electorate is more inclined to side with them rather than the opposition.

Bush was not elected with a majority. Gore won the popular vote. Period.

I don't think you know what a sense of entitlement is and it sounds like you're a royalist. But as Americans, we don't have kings.
 
cdntarheel, completely agree. Probably in part a function of relative fame. Also, I suppose reflective of the different role of prime ministers and presidents...
 
Anon,

"I don't think you know what a sense of entitlement is and it sounds like you're a royalist. But as Americans, we don't have kings."

In light of the paragraph that precedes my comment about the "sense of entitlement", how could you possibly come away with the idea that I'm a "royalist”? You’re misinterpreting what I wrote.

I'll try to clarify things a bit...

By electorate I'm referring to the body of voters in all federal elections. For over a decade now, the House of Representatives (the house of the people) has been firmly under Republican control. As I wrote earlier, this came about because the Democratic leadership, having won the presidency and congress, decided to pursue what was by American standards a very progressive agenda. Within one election cycle they would go on to lose the House.

Contrast that with what we've seen in the last few years. Republicans have pursued a very conservative agenda (tax cuts, attempted ban on gay marriage, missile defense, etc...). Yet we haven't seen a response anywhere near as immediate or visceral as we saw in 1994. This would seem to indicate that, as a whole, the electorate is more tolerant of a federal political agenda that is conservative rather than progressive. Such an environment is more conducive to the election of a conservative candidate (read: G.W. Bush) as opposed to a progressive one.

Democrats can still win the presidency, of course; but only if they go the Clinton-esque centrist route. Whereas Bush can be (and has been) as conservative and religious as he pleases. Hence, his sense of entitlement.
 
Yet we haven't seen a response anywhere near as immediate or visceral as we saw in 1994.

The war in Iraq masks most peoples' awareness of the domestic agenda, and I wouldn't necessarily call this approval. Some have called this a permanent crisis.

Whereas Bush can be (and has been) as conservative and religious as he pleases. Hence, his sense of entitlement.

You're trying to say that 'a sense of entitlement' is a synonym of 'deserving.' That would be reasonable, except that I used the phrase first and I meant elitism. You're redefining, not I.

We have a Constitution. We have rights. We have laws. It's very inefficient and very American. But we don't have kings.

Wouldn't you prefer that Bush was a national leader rather than merely entitled one?
 
“The war in Iraq masks most peoples' awareness of the domestic agenda, and I wouldn't necessarily call this approval.”

Neither would I, which is why I never used the word ‘approve’. Remember we’re talking about election results here, not approval ratings. One need only have more votes than the other guy to win.

As for the Iraq war ‘masking’ people’s awareness (apparently the media has covered Iraq and nothing else 24/7 for the past 3 years), it doesn’t explain the lack of backlash against republicans in the house and senate during the 90’s, when they passed conservative initiatives like welfare reform, the Defense of Marriage act, and S. 257, the bill that essentially killed the ABM treaty.

Now, none of this is to say that these acts were necessarily good for the country. We’re talking about elections, not individual polices. Rather, they just didn’t piss off voters enough to kick Republican Reps and Senators out of office in large numbers. (Well, at least not yet…)

“You're trying to say that 'a sense of entitlement' is a synonym of 'deserving.'

No, I’m using it in the political sense, i.e. believes his/her views are more in line with those of the electorate than those of his/her opponent. In fact, I would go as far to say that every serious candidate who is up in the polls going into an election has a ‘sense of entitlement’, in so far as he or she believes his/her views best reflect those of the electorate. Sometimes the candidate is right (as was the case with G.W.), and sometimes they’re wrong (like with Bush Senior and Cynthia McKinney), but the ‘sense’ is there nonetheless.

“That would be reasonable, except that I used the phrase first and I meant elitism.”

Then I would recommend incorporating that into your original statement next time, perhaps by writing: “that elitist Bush sense of entitlement.”

“We have a Constitution. We have rights. We have laws. It's very inefficient and very American. But we don't have kings.”

Yes, I grasp that.

“Wouldn't you prefer that Bush was a national leader rather than merely entitled one?”

So a President can’t be both entitled and national? I thought that winning the election entitled the candidate to become President, who in turn leads the nation.
 
Well, you seem like you have a head on your shoulders. If you go back to my first post, I was saying that GHWB lost because he didn't campaign very hard, which is true. It was thought at the time that he felt he deserved to be re-elected on his record, what seemed an exaggerated sense of entitlement, and he lost. He underestimated his opponents.
 
this will probably go unnoticed now but...

"think many in the DNC took the Clinton presidency to mean that the American people were far more progressive than they actually were."

there was also no reason for liberals to not think that the world was becoming more and more liberal. SA and apartheid, a rise in environmentalism, the AIDS crisis, and a host of other things that people started to be concerned about (and sided with Dems on how to solve them) made many think that America (and the world for that matter) was more progressive than it actually is/was.
 
Anon,

"I was saying that GHWB lost because he didn't campaign very hard, which is true. It was thought at the time that he felt he deserved to be re-elected on his record, what seemed an exaggerated sense of entitlement, and he lost. He underestimated his opponents."

I agree. And G.W. has in my view always been a 'C-' campaigner as well.

Edhula3,

Nah, it didn't go unnoticed.

I think the world was becoming more progressive at the time, for all those reasons you listed. I just think that the Dems led with the wrong issues, that's all. If they had put a greater public emphasis on anti-HIV iniatives and environmental issues I think they would have maintained their voter appeal. At the same time they could've quietly beefed up federal spending on medicaid and medicare, rather than trumpeting a sweeping change of the entire industry.

I guess at the heart of my original comment was the question: in the long run, did Clinton hurt progressive policies in the US more than he helped them? Had the democrats not suffered the sweeping losses in the house, then it stands to reason that many of the current administrations policies likely wouldn't have come about.

At any rate, I think this thread has about run its course. I'll let you guys have the last word on the subject...
 
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