Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press gives us: "Bush leaving some problems to successors". It's actually a pretty fantastic article:
Iraq, budget deficits, the looming insolvency of Social Security and Medicare, high health and energy costs, a national immigration mess — the next president will inherit these problems in January 2009. With Bush's popularity at an all time low and relations with the Democratic-led Congress acrimonious, he has little or no chance of pulling off a surprise victory in his time left.
"We're in a worse place than we were in 1999" before Bush became president, lamented Matthew Dowd, a former pollster and chief campaign strategist for Bush who has become disillusioned with his old boss.
Indeed. The only thing I would dispute is that the framing suggests that "solving problems" is one of the purposes of the Bush administration, and that the fact that the problems haven't been solved amounts to a failure of administration policy. The evidence, in my view, suggests that Bush and his top aides couldn't care less about national problems and whether or not they're solved. They spend a lot of time focused on things like setting themselves up for sweetheart jobs in the industries they used to regulate, evading legal consequences for war crimes, helping the rich get richer, etc.
I don't, honestly, actually expect that much in the way of idealism from our political leaders. But I have this sense that Bill Clinton and a critical mass of his main aides thought that, basically, their odds of getting re-elected would be higher if things were going well in the country. And then that the odds of Al Gore succeeding Clinton in office (which obviously would benefit them in certain ways) would be higher if things were going well in the country. So that while good policy and good politics weren't by any means the same thing, they were related things, and "will this be a huge disaster?" was the sort of thing people worried about.
Bush -- not to much. Having come in with a campaign that won despite our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity he's governed as if the merits of things are irrelevant to his interests and those of his friends.
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