If there is sustenance for President
On Tuesday night, former President
On Wednesday morning, Bush’s predecessor,
Of the three, Obama is arguably in the worst straits now. His job approval rating on the weekly Gallup roundup was most recently at 41%. A separate Pew Research Center poll also found him at 41%, with 53% disapproving of how he's handling the job.
Which probably means that, down the road, he'll be swimmingly popular, as history dons its rose-colored glasses.
In the instant, popularity is measured against expectations, a fraught comparison for politicians most of the time. But the popularity of past presidents is detached from the hot passions of the moment; past crises, which are generally solved by time, tend to take a back seat to the tensions of the present.
At least that is one explanation for the fact that all past presidents rise in the public's estimation as they recede into memory.
President Bush left office with a 40% popularity rating, which fell to 35% two months later, in March 2009. Now? He's at 49%.
President Clinton left office at 66%, according to Gallup, and still has risen a few points.
Every president since
Time and circumstances are two healers, as is the American propensity toward redemption. As Bush put it from the "Tonight Show" couch Tuesday night, after saying he had done the best he could as president:
"I'm also very comfortable with the fact that it's going to take a while for history to judge whether the decisions I made are consequential or not. And, therefore, I'm not too worried about it. In other words, I've read some biographies of Washington. And my attitude is if they're still writing biographies of the first guy, the 43rd guy doesn't need to worry about it."