One hundred nine historians already nearly unanimously agree. They call the presidency of George W. Bush a "failure." The History News Network, or HNN, who polled the historians, failed to name them or where they work. Wonder why?
American Enterprise magazine, in 2002, examined voter registrations to determine the political affiliations of humanities professors at an assortment of colleges and universities, public and private, big and small, located in the North, South, East and West. Of those registered with a political party – and most were – historians overwhelmingly belong to a "party of the left" (Democratic, Green or Working Families parties) versus a "party of the right" (Republican or Libertarian parties). Take Brown University's history department. Seventeen professors belonged to parties on the left, zero on the right. Cornell University's history department? Twenty-nine on the left, zero on the right. Denver College: nine history professors left, zero right. San Diego State University: 19 left, four right. Stanford University: 22 left, two right. UCLA: 53 left, three right. University of Texas at Austin: 12 left, two right.
HNN's historians provided three principal reasons in labeling Bush's presidency a "failure":
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1) Invading Iraq. Since the "surge" began, casualties have fallen dramatically. Five hundred thousand Iraqis, up from zero, now form the Iraqi military and police. Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead in their own security. The main Sunni bloc, which refused to participate in Parliament, recently returned to the government. According to American Enterprise Institute, of the 18 original benchmarks set for the Iraqi government, 12 have been met, with substantial progress being made on five, and only one – the least important – stalled. Fifty-three percent of Americans now consider victory in Iraq a possibility, with Americans almost evenly divided on whether to stay or withdraw by time certain. Oh, and just an aside, no attack on American soil since 9/11.
2) Tax breaks for the rich. By definition, any tax cuts go disproportionately to the rich because the rich disproportionately pay more taxes. The top 1 percent of income earners in 2005, those earning $364,657 or more, paid over 39 percent of all federal income taxes. On the other hand, they earned approximately 21 percent of taxpayers' income. The President John F. Kennedy tax cuts, by percentage, lowered taxes more than the Bush cuts. Does anyone call the Kennedy tax cuts a "failed policy"? Kennedy, pushing for his tax cut program, used the same Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush logic: "It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low – and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut rates now." From 2003 to 2007, in constant dollars, total Treasury revenue increased 20 percent.
3) Alienation of nations around the world. Take a look at the globe. France's newly elected President Nicolas Sarkozy praises Bush, dismissed his country's opposition to the war as "French arrogance," and says his countrymen's anti-Americanism "reflects a certain envy of (America's) brilliant success." British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper all support Bush and maintain close ties with America. Italy's enthusiastically pro-Bush prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who sent troops to Iraq, left office in 2006. His predecessor withdrew the troops. But guess who's now back, in a landslide victory? Berlusconi.
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As a result of Bush's commitment to democracy and his initiatives combating HIV and AIDS, the president enjoys near rock-star status in many African countries. And NATO, thanks to Bush's prodding, swelled from 19 members to 26, admitting in 2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
And what about Bush's war on Islamo-fascism, which allegedly provokes alienation and a backlash against America? Support for homicide bombing among Muslims in predominately Muslim countries worldwide shows a dramatic decline. Support for "suicide bombing" in Lebanon, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, dropped 50 percent or more in the past five years. Similarly, support for Islamist political parties – linked or sympathetic to the Taliban or al-Qaida – has dropped dramatically. In Pakistan, for example, Islamist parties garnered only 3 percent of the vote, down from 11 percent in the previous general election. "The Islamist defeat in Pakistani," writes Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri in the Wall Street Journal, "confirms a trend that's been under way (in Muslim countries) for years." Muslim support for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan fell in the six months before February '08 by as much as 50 percent – to 24 percent – with some former followers now renouncing him. In Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, where many believe bin Laden hides, polls show support for him falling to single digits.
Maybe historians should wait for some, well, history, before rendering a verdict.