Daniel McCarthy attributes the bump in Bush’s favorability to nostalgia:
Republicans have reason to be a little wistful for the Bush years. And there’s a feeling among centrists that whatever his mistakes, the party Bush led wasn’t as nasty as it has since become.
Larison suspects it’s a function of politics in the present:
If I had to guess, I’d say that Bush’s higher approval mostly comes from people that want to express their disapproval of the current president, and this includes quite a few people who disapproved of Bush while he was in office. One way to do that is to affirm that Bush did a good job. If we look at the results by party identification and ideology, that tells us part of the story. 84% of Republicans and 45% of independents say they approve of how Bush “handled his job as president.” Both figures are much higher than they were in 2008. This reflects the perverse rally effect that causes some people to embrace their disastrous leaders simply because people on the other “side” keep attacking him.
Weigel agrees after speaking to the Tea Party crowd:
In February 2010, a Tennessee lawyer named Judson Phillips put on a miraculously successful National Tea Party Convention, and he became, for a while, a movement spokesman. “The Tea Party movement does not defend George W. Bush,” said Phillips in February 2010, promoting the convention. “George W. Bush is not exactly one of my favorite people.”
Today, Phillips follows the “Obama was worse” line. “The one factor, other than just the passing of time that is helping Bush,” he says, “is the way people remember the economy of the Bush years versus what I like to call the Great Obama Depression. If you compare the Bush economy to the Obama economy, I think a lot of people look back wistfully saying, ‘I was better off 10 years ago than I am today.’ ”
This is just desperate counter-factual denialism. Some were blaming the debt Bush’s wars, spending and Wall Street collapse almost as soon as Obama took office! And that kind of denialism is not a way out of the Republican hole but burrowing deeper into it. Bouie argues that Republicans need to make a clear break with Dubya or perpetually suffer guilt by association:
[T]his is a recipe for failure. The GOP’s losing streak, from the 2006 wave election to Obama’s re-election victory in 2012 (with a brief respite in 2010), has everything to do with George W. Bush, and Iraq in particular. It’s what gave Democrats the House and the Senate in 2006, and it’s a large part of what gave Barack Obama the presidency in 2008. And for as much as election fundamentals could predict the outcome of last year’s election, it’s also true that Democrats got a lot of traction out of tying Republicans to the “failures of the past.” Americans still remember the Bush years, and as long as Republicans are committed to same policies, they’ll still hesitate to give them the reins of state.
Joan Walsh advises the right to keep Bush out of the spotlight:
Bush’s ratings only improved because he went away. His comeback campaign is likely to remind people of the disaster he left in his wake, and backfire on him, his brother and his party.
Recent Dish on George Bush revisionism here.
(Photo: US President George W. Bush delivers remarks 01 May 2006 from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on the recent trip to Iraq by US Secretary of Defense Donand Rumsfeld and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Three years after his famous photo-op before a banner hailing ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Iraq, Bush declared that the war-torn country had finally turned a corner in establishing security and democracy. By Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.)