Lyndon Johnson was so hated by a majority of Democratic Party activists in 1968 that he failed to appear at the national convention held in Chicago. There was no photograph of him anywhere. He became a non-person.
Yet he was the President of the United States.
George W. Bush has achieved the same unique status. He did not show up at the 2008 national convention. He did do a brief live video feed. Not this time. He will be a ghost at the Party’s party.
It was his decision in both cases. These were very wise decisions.
“President Bush was grateful for the invitation to the Republican National Convention,” a spokesman for Mr. Bush, Freddy Ford, said in a statement. “He supports Governor Romney and wants him to succeed. But in keeping with his desire to stay off the political stage at this point in the postpresidency, he respectfully declined the invitation to go to Tampa.”
He would no doubt deny the extent to which his legacy has destroyed the Republican Party. But he knows that he is not welcome to large segments of the Republican electorate. Some despise his legacy. Others are just deeply embarrassed by it.
He did not get Bin Laden.
He started a war that every foreign invader has lost: an invasion of Afghanistan.
In Iraq, there is no peace. The car bombings and the suicide bombings continue. The Shi’ite Muslims are in charge in the south. Their brethren in Iran are pleased.
He ran a huge budget deficit in 2008, with no effect, other than to set a precedent for Obama a few months later.
He bailed out the big banks, despite universal opposition from Democrats and Republicans in the electorate. He TARPed the voters.
He sat silent while Ben Bernanke doubled the monetary base in one month.
Obama won in 2008 with this promise: he would not be another Bush. He lied. He is Bush’s operational heir: big bank bailouts, huge budget deficits, war in Afghanistan, and Gitmo.
Pelosi rammed Obamacare through Congress. This followed up on Bush’s Medicare prescription drug law, which will cost the federal government far more than Obamacare will.
But Obama did get credit for killing Bin Laden.
Former Congressman Mickey Edwards has summarized Bush’s Presidency as well as anyone. He did this in a book published in the spring of 2008, before the economic crisis hit.
“At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, in the White House, the president, who called himself (and was called by others) a conservative, had become the very embodiment of everything conservatives had long feared and warned against. Operating almost unchecked by any other branch of government, he ordered wiretaps on citizens’ phones, held prisoners without trial or charges, and refused to provide information to Congress even when federal law required him to do so. For nearly half a century, conservatives had worried that a leftist president, if given the opportunity, might do such things. Now those things were being done by a man who called himself a ‘conservative,’ and ‘conservatives’ cheered him on. Those who once had wanted only that the government leave them alone as much as possible, who once had warned of the dangers of Big Brother, had created the monster government they most feared.”
I hope Bush stays away from the 2016 convention, too.