If, as I suggested yesterday, any rehabilitation of George W. Bush depends on 1) the post-2006 turnaround in Iraq continuing and 2) his getting credit for it, then I wonder whether a McCain victory in November would raise the chances that Bush's reputation will improve once he leaves office - as Bill Kristol, among others, has argued - or diminish them. To my mind, the biggest reason to expect that over the long run Bush won't get much credit for the turnaround in Iraq, assuming it persists, is that by late '06 he had become so (deservedly) unpopular that the selling of the new Iraq policy essentially had to be outsourced to other figures - John McCain chief among them. And if the Arizona Senator is elected President on the strength of his support for the Surge (while insisting that he had the right Iraq policy all along and Bush only came to it reluctantly, and when it was almost too late), then the election results will reinforce an already-existing narrative that associates the policy more with McCain than with Bush. Whereas if Barack Obama is elected President, after attacking the Surge and proposing a swift and complete withdrawal instead, and then finds himself - as I suspect he will - continuing the Bush approach (a very, very gradual drawdown) rather than taking the path he's advocated on the campaign trail, it may throw into relief for posterity Bush's ownership of what, with any luck, will be remembered as the best decision of his Presidency.
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