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Monday, September 12, 2011

Obama as Bush 41

It may seem odd to compare President Obama to George H.W. Bush. But start by comparing the margins by which they won the White House:

Popular vote.........53.37%....52.87%
Electoral vote.......426..........365

Note that Obama's victory was a bit smaller on both counts. Niall Stanage adds at The Hill:

Democrats, especially those close to the White House, have been raiding the history books of late, looking for lessons that might help propel President Obama to a second term.

But one parallel in particular is too close for comfort: that of President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Fred Malek, who managed Bush’s campaign that year, agreed that the two men face comparable predicaments.

“Both were going toward an election with a weak, troubling economic picture. Both saw their approval ratings drop substantially from where they had been,” he told The Hill.

But, he added, there were — and are — significant differences.

“Obama clearly knows we have a problem, economically, but doesn’t know what to do about it. Bush didn’t believe we had as troubled an economy as we had — and he also thought that, to the extent that government would get involved, anything it did was as likely to be wrong as right.”
The current economic slump is much, much worse than the short, shallow 1991-1992 recession.

Both faced grumbling within their parties: Bush for agreeing to a tax increase, Obama to agreeing to an extension of tax cuts.

Both had a spike in popularity: Bush for winning the Gulf War, Obama for killing bin Laden. Bush's spike was bigger and lasted longer, but he still ended under water.

Bush 41 did not have legislative accomplishments as far-reaching as the health-care bill, but it's a myth that his administration was a time of legislative gridlock. The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clear Air Act authorization were just two of the significant bills that became law during this time.