Since President Bush's poll numbers don't seem to be turning around, it's time for some wishful thinking from his speechwriters and conservative supporters in the media. Maybe history will see will see him more kindly.
If you haven't yet heard them, get ready to hear President Bush and his supporters make comparisons to President Truman. After all, Truman, like Bush, had hideous poll numbers and presided over an unpopular war. By carefully applying the classic rightwing logic we can easily say that ALL unpopular presidents are like Truman and will automatically become more popular after they leave office. See, logic.
Since Truman's legacy is complex, we offer a simple comparison for the conservatives scoring at home:
• Truman served in France as a captain with the 129th Field Artillery during World War I. In fact, the severely nearsighted Truman was so eager to get into the military that he cheated on his army physical by memorizing the eye exam chart. Yes, Bush sat out the Vietnam War, staying stateside to work on a Republican Senate campaign, but he is also widely known for his shortsightedness. TIE: GIVE EACH MAN A POINT FOR CHEATING AND POOR VISION.
• Bush went to Yale where he was a cheerleader. Truman was the last President without a college degree. And although he attended public schools and took night classes, he was not a cheerleader. BUSH GETS A POINT FOR CHOOSING WEALTHIER PARENTS AND BEING A CHEERLEADER
• As a Senator, Truman headed the Truman Commission, which is credited with saving billions of dollars in wasteful military spending. Rightwingers feared the committee would hurt troop morale. AS A CHAMPION OF WASTEFUL MILITARY SPENDING, BUSH GETS A POINT FOR POSING NO RISK TO TROOP MORALE
• Truman signed the original United Nations charter and included human rights champion Eleanor Roosevelt on the first General Assembly delegation. At the time, the U.N. Building had 0 floors. So, in spite of UN Ambassador John Bolton's talk about removing floors from the U.N. building, it is still taller today. TRUMAN GETS A POINT FOR A MUCH SHORTER UNITED NATIONS BUILDING
• They are both willing to use nuclear weapons but Truman actually did it. TRUMAN GETS A POINT FOR WILLINGNESS TO USE NUKES (Score this one in pencil. Bush still has time.)
• Over the objection of white Southerners in his own party, Truman embraced a strong civil rights agenda in his party's platform in 1948. He also issued Executive Order 9981, which racially integrated the U.S. Armed Services. Bush is also strongly in favor of African Americans serving in the military. TIE: BOTH MEN FAVOR A 1948 CIVIL RIGHTS AGENGA
• As part of his Fair Deal, Truman proposed universal health care in 1948. He was so well known as an advocate of health care benefits for all that Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare bill at the Truman Library. At the ceremony, Johnson gave the first two cards to Truman and his wife, Bess. TIE: NEITHER MAN WILL EVER PASS UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
• Both men were not elected to their first terms and enjoyed narrow second-term victory margins. In a 1952 Gallup Poll, Truman hit 22%, setting the record for the lowest Presidential approval rating. BUSH GETS A POINT FOR HAVING SLIGHTLY HIGHER APPROVAL RATINGS (But score this one in pencil, too.)
So, while the few remaining Bush supporters might be tempted to compare their guy to Truman, they should give Truman more credit. Even when he wasn't really trying, he was a much better conservative.