George W Bush’s approval numbers, once scraping the bottom of Presidential polling in the low to mid 20s, have risen to be more or less equivalent to our current President in the high 40s (47% in a recent poll).


So what’s up? Well Peggy Noonan (of all people) says the following:

Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 because he was not George W. Bush. In fact, he was elected because he was the farthest thing possible from Mr. Bush. On some level he knew this, which is why every time he got in trouble he’d say Bush’s name. It’s all his fault, you have no idea the mess I inherited. As long as Mr. Bush’s memory was hovering like Boo Radley in the shadows, Mr. Obama would be OK.
This week something changed. George W. Bush is back, for the unveiling of his presidential library. His numbers are dramatically up. You know why? Because he’s the farthest thing from Barack Obama.

Obama fatigue has opened the way to Bush affection.

In all his recent interviews Mr. Bush has been modest, humorous, proud but unassuming, and essentially philosophical: History will decide. No finger-pointing or scoring points. If he feels rancor or resentment he didn’t show it. He didn’t attempt to manipulate. His sheer normality seemed like a relief, an echo of an older age.

And all this felt like an antidote to Obama—to the imperious I, to the inability to execute, to the endless interviews and the imperturbable drone, to the sense that he is trying to teach us, like an Ivy League instructor taken aback by the backwardness of his students. And there’s the unconscious superiority. One thing Mr. Bush didn’t think he was was superior. He thought he was luckily born, quick but not deep, and he famously trusted his gut but also his heart. He always seemed moved and grateful to be in the White House. Someone who met with Mr. Obama during his first year in office, an old hand who’d worked with many presidents, came away worried and confounded. Mr. Obama, he said, was the only one who didn’t seem awed by his surroundings, or by the presidency itself.

In general I have lost all respect or affection I used to have for Peggy Noonan (a one-time Reagan speechwriter if you can believe it). She fell prey to the illusory “appeal” of Barack Obama and bragged about voting for him. Now she’s seeing the same Obama I saw in 2007 and 2008. Yay for her.

But this is about Bush. I said when Bush left office that history would be kinder to him than the current political nattering class. I suspect in the long run he will be remembered at about the same level of general approval as Bill Clinton or Harry Truman. He won’t be regarded as a “great” President, but history will rate him much higher than Jimmy Carter, and in the long term I also believe our current President will be acknowledged eventually to be one of the very worst Presidents we’ve ever had the misfortune to suffer under.

One person who should be very interested in a resurgent W is Jeb Bush.