In contrast to the horrific week that was last week, the past couple of days has brought a certain amount of vindication to those whom the left and the media (pardon the repetition) attempted to grind to a thin paste in previous years.
First up, as they say at Canada’s Small Dead Animals blog, now is the time when we juxtapose:
[Katrina] and its New Orleans aftermath at least seemed to solve a big problem for anti-Bush commentators and politicians. Previously, they couldn’t grouse about the Iraq War without seeming defeatist (and anti-liberationist and maybe even selfishly isolationist). Even the Clintons never figured a way out of that trap. But nature has succeded where they failed; it has opened up a way out, at least temporarily. Now Bush opponents can argue, in some cases quite accurately, that without the Iraq deployment aid would have gotten to New Orleans faster. And ‘if we can [tk] in Iraq, why can’t we [tk] in our own South?’ They aren’t being selfish. They are just asserting priorities! In short, Katrina gives them a way to talk about Iraq without talking about Iraq. No wonder Gwen Ifill smiles the “inner smile.”
– Mickey Kaus, Kausfiles, September 5th, 2005.
“DO TELL: Donna Brazile: Bush came through on Katrina. Boy, talk about a narrative-buster.”
– Instapundit, yesterday.
And as PJM’s Bryan Preston wrote in mid-November 2006 at Hot Air, the MSM used the false narrative they constructed over Katrina all the way to Democrat majorities in the House and Senate, paving the way for one party-rule during the first two years of Obama’s first term:
What cost the GOP its majorities in Congress and statehouses? Nancy Pelosi and her wing of the Democrats are running around as though the elections validated their hard left view of the war and the world, but according to James Carville’s Democracy Corps, this election did no such thing.What cost the GOP its power? Iraq? Foley? Look at page 6 of Democracy Corps’ post-election report. The GOP’s fortunes fatally cratered in the Fall of 2005, and were recovering ever since minus a couple of blips this year. What happened in the Fall of ‘05?
Katrina. That storm turned out to be the hurricane that changed history.
In a new article at the Washington Examiner, David Freddoso explores how that’s working out for the left:
In 2006, Democrats built a congressional majority by embracing and convincing pro-gun, pro-life moderates to run in marginal states and districts. They have since lost many of these in the House, and liberals are now in the process of purging them from the Senate.Until Monday, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., had been acting like a man seeking re-election — raising $1.5 million in the first quarter and attempting to distance himself from Obamacare.
But Baucus had just voted against the gun control measures that President Obama had been pushing. And in response, Organizing for Action — the post-campaign version of Obama’s campaign — announced it would be mobilizing activists to shame and pressure Baucus and the three other Democrats who had voted against gun control.
Baucus, already polling badly and facing a tough re-election, needed that like he needed a hole in his head. Who could blame him for hanging it up early?
“Several surveys have shown that the people who bring us political news are to the left of the U.S. mainstream politically, and there are few issues on which they feel more strongly” than gun control, Freddoso adds. “It’s a lot harder to mind or describe the perils of a purge when you’re the one holding the torch.” *
Oh, and remember in early 2011, after Gabrielle Gifords and a judge appointed by Bush Sr. were among those shot by an apolitical loony in Arizona — which of course, didn’t stop the left’s wilding campaign, in search of that allusive Tea Party Terrorist, over which they pummeled Sarah Palin for using target clip art in one of her campaign ads — forgetting of course, that Democrats had early employed the same imagery in theirs? Say, what’s that I see atop the newest Photoshop from the man who plagiarized an AP photo to create the fascistically iconic Obama “Hope” poster:
But let’s get back to GWB for a few minutes. At the Wall Street Journal this week, Peggy Noonan writes:
Mr. Bush could be prickly and irritable and near the end showed arrogance, but he wasn’t vain or conceited, and he still isn’t. When people said recently that they were surprised he could paint, he laughed: “Some people are surprised I can even read.” **
Coverage of the opening of his presidential library Thursday was wall to wall on cable, and a feeling of affection for him was encouraged, or at least enabled, by the Washington press corps, which doesn’t much like Mr. Obama because he’s not all that likable, and remembers Mr. Bush with a kind of reluctant fondness because he was.
But to the point. Mr. Obama was elected because he wasn’t Bush.
Mr. Bush is popular now because he’s not Obama.
The wheel turns, doesn’t it?
Here’s a hunch: The day of the opening of the Bush library was the day Obama fatigue became apparent as a fact of America’s political life.
When Bush left office, his approval rating was down in the 20s to low 30s. Now it’s at 47%, which is what Obama’s is. That is amazing, and not sufficiently appreciated. Yes, we are a 50-50 nation, but Mr. Bush left office in foreign-policy and economic failure, even cataclysm. Yet he is essentially equal in the polls to the supposedly popular president. Which suggests Republicans in general have some latent, unseen potential of which they’re unaware. Right now they’re busy being depressed. Maybe they should be thinking, “If Bush could come back . . .” Actually, forget I said that. Every time Republican political professionals start to think that way, with optimism, they get crude and dumb and think if they press certain levers the mice will run in certain directions.
Though to borrow from another recurring theme in the Blogosphere; this might by a case of two Wall Street Journals in one. Recall what former GWB speech writer Bill McGurn wrote there in January of 2009:
In a few hours, George W. Bush will walk out of the Oval Office for the last time as president. As he leaves, he carries with him the near-universal opprobrium of the permanent class that inhabits our nation’s capital. Yet perhaps the most important reason for this unpopularity is the one least commented on.
Here’s a hint: It’s not because of his failures. To the contrary, Mr. Bush’s disfavor in Washington owes more to his greatest success. Simply put, there are those who will never forgive Mr. Bush for not losing a war they had all declared unwinnable.
Here in the afterglow of the turnaround led by Gen. David Petraeus, it’s easy to forget what the smart set was saying two years ago — and how categorical they all were in their certainty. The president was a simpleton, it was agreed. Didn’t he know that Iraq was a civil war, and the only answer was to get out as fast as we could?
Which is exactly what BHO would do a couple of years later. Hard-fought GOP victories being abandoned by punitive American leftists? Why, that’s never happened before! Except that one time, of course:
Meanwhile, the New York Times finally awakens from its torpor to cover a story that Andrew Breitbart — and PJM’s own Zombietime — were focusing on almost three years ago. “It’s rare to get this kind of vindication,” Ed Morrissey writes today, “so let’s enjoy it in memory of Andrew Breitbart for as long as possible:”
For more than two years, Andrew and Lee Stranahan have investigated the Pigford settlement and the fraudulent claims that not only have cost taxpayers billions, but have left the original black farmers who sued the USDA over discrimination in the lurch. Today the New York Times reports what Andrew and Lee have been saying all along — that the Pigford settlement was a political hack job by Tom Vilsack’s Department of Agriculture, and that it’s a magnet for fraud (via Twitchy):
The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department. But an examination by The New York Times shows that it became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees. In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion.
From the start, the claims process prompted allegations of widespread fraud and criticism that its very design encouraged people to lie: because relatively few records remained to verify accusations, claimants were not required to present documentary evidence that they had been unfairly treated or had even tried to farm. Agriculture Department reviewers found reams of suspicious claims, from nursery-school-age children and pockets of urban dwellers, sometimes in the same handwriting with nearly identical accounts of discrimination.
Yet those concerns were played down as the compensation effort grew. Though the government has started requiring more evidence to support some claims, even now people who say they were unfairly denied loans can collect up to $50,000 with little documentation.
As a senator, Barack Obama supported expanding compensation for black farmers, and then as president he pressed for $1.15 billion to pay those new claims. Other groups quickly escalated their demands for similar treatment. In a letter to the White House in September 2009, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a leading Hispanic Democrat, threatened to mount a campaign “outside the Beltway” if Hispanic farmers were not compensated.
Somewhere, Andrew is looking down on the vindication by the sclerotic Gray Lady and laughing:
* Speaking of potential self-immolations, “Obamacare Has Democrats Nervous about Their Political Future,” Walter Russell Mead writes today.
** Not everyone, Dubya. Not everyone.