Strange New Respect
And now, a brief trip down memory lane:
Strange, how a man once so reviled has gained stature in the memory. How we cheered when Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency! How dramatic it was when David Frost cornered him on TV and presided over the humiliating confession that he had stonewalled for three years. And yet how much more intelligent, thoughtful and, well, presidential, he now seems, compared to the occupant of the office from 2001 to 2009.
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Nixon was thought to have been destroyed by Watergate and interred by the Frost interviews. But wouldn’t you trade him in a second for Bush?
-- Roger Ebert, in his review of Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon, December 10th, 2008.
And how did an era of greed, led by an out-of-touch airhead, change two decades later into a golden age, led by a prince among men? The reasons are these: First, the only times conservatives are praised in the press is when they can be used to run down other conservatives; and second, it is a general rule of the press and of the establishment that the best conservatives are those dead or retired; and the more dead or retired, the better they are. As Jonah Goldberg noted this winter when Gerald Ford died, lauded by a media that had little good to say of him while he was president, each Republican president is a fool, a bigot, and a dangerous warmonger while he is in office, responsible for sexism, racism, ageism, and general misery. Once dead, however, he acquires a Strange New Respect. In time, the jibes thrown at him are airbrushed away, and he is seen as a statesman, a true conservative, with all the best values, all the more so when compared with whatever Republican is now in office, who is seen in comparison as someone who really is dangerous, a warmonger, bigot, and fool. In their turn, Barry Goldwater, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush the Elder have become harmless and loveable figures, cherished for their good humor, their prudence, and tolerance--and for their distance from today's modern conservatives, who have run their cause into the ground.
This pattern will not alter: In a few years, when President Rudy or Commander in Chief Thompson begins knocking heads, watch out for the press to express its Strange New Respect for Bush 43, whose government was nothing if not diverse as regards race and gender, and who at least made a pretense of being compassionate. In 2027, if Time is still around, will it run a cover, showing him shedding a tear?
Wherever Reagan is today, he is doubtless not crying. We like to think he is watching the horse race, with other ex-presidents. And laughing his head off at Time.
-- Noemie Emery on "Reinventing Ronald Reagan," in the Weekly Standard, April 2nd, 2007.
When Reagan was president, he was compared unfavorably to Eisenhower.
When Bush was president, he was compared unfavorably to Reagan.
Know this: When a Republican takes office in 2013, he will be compared unfavorably to Bush, who will be held out as a "conservative who at least had some heart and some sense of compassion" and the current Republican President will be, as each Republican President is called in turn, the worst President in all of history.
-- Ace of Spades, August 4, 2010.
One last thing–it’s going to be awesome when the media decides that the way to spin the uneasiness of the Team Perry and Team W camps is by painting George W. Bush as the thoughtful, sensible guy who just wasn’t comfortable with the brash, extremist Perry. You’ve never seen Strange New Respect like this!
-- Jonathan Last, August 15, 2011.
And -- tada! -- at Hot Air on August 17th:
Top story on CNN.com today: George Bush was way more sensible than Rick Perry