Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On a related note...

Yglesias says something stupid:

I also take the view that Bush is probably correct to think that history will remember him kindly. American presidents associated with big dramatic events tend to wind up with good reputations whether they deserve them or not. One possible Bush analogy would be to Woodrow Wilson, who did all kinds of things with regard to civil liberties that look indefensible today and whose foreign policy ended as a giant failure, but who was associated with both big events and with big ideas that were influential down the road. Someday, I bet there will be democracies in the Middle East and some future Republican president will figure out a way to put meat on the bones of "compassionate conservatism" and Bush will be looked upon as a far-sighted figure who made some mistakes in a difficult period of time. Will he deserve a good reputation? No. Will he get one? I'd say yes.

First of all, I'm hoping Megan echoes this sentiment so I can just repost my argument. Regardless, here it goes.

The claim that "American presidents associated with big dramatic events tend to wind up with good reputations whether they deserve them or not" is stupid and contradicted by the examples of Hoover, Wilson, and Nixon.

There are a number of reasons why historians in the academy will, by and large, view Bush as a miserable failure.

1) Academics tend to be smart.

2) Bush has done everything in his power to keep his administration's documents classified indefinitely. Moreover, the George W. Bush presidential library will have a heteropagus twin designed to hire historians that advance the vision of George W. Bush. Academics will resent both of these things.

3) Academic historians will remember the 2000 [edited, h/t spencer] election. Its kinda gauche in political circles to protest about how Bush stole the 2000 election. But, its quite obvious, when one reviews the documentary record, that Bush did steal the election, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg sucks.

4) Academic historians will NOT believe the Bush administration's claim that they invaded Iraq as a response to intelligence estimates that suggested Saddam was an imminent threat. Anyone familiar with the history of intelligence as it relates to foreign policy knows that the inherent ambiguity of intelligence means that it only serves to reinforce, not shape, policy. No President has shifted his broad policy goals solely on the basis of a CIA report.

5) Global warming

6) Historians will emphasize the recorded intentions of Cheney et al to invade Iraq prior to 9/11. This will make it easier to conclude that the Iraq war was either to establish a military presence in the Middle East, placate Israel, or control oil resources.

Even if Iraq evolves into a Democracy within the next couple decades, few serious scholars will argue that Bush is responsible for said transformation. How many scholars blame Churchill for the Middle East's failings? Ok, one.


spencer said...

There was an election in 2001? I guess, in the words of Shel Silverstein, I got stoned and I missed it . . .

rickm said...

That 'plain ol idiocy' tag applied to me!