Conservatives have long criticized the immediate past President of the United States for failing to rein in spending under his watch. To be sure, the federal deficit did start declining in FY2005 and did so until the election of a Democratic Congress in 2006. But, we believe he could have done more to restrain the growth of government and curtail its regulatory power.
Save on national security issues, most of us on the right never really saw George W. Bush as a conservative. Still, he was a good man. He never blamed his predecessor who left him with a compromised intelligence apparatus — and a weakening economy. And since leaving the White House nearly three-and-one-half years ago, he has seen fit to treat his successor in a similar manner, never criticizing him in public nor even faulting the incumbent for his relentless attacks — not even defending himself against those attacks.
And still today, Barack Obama won’t let up. In 2008, his party desperately wanted to see W depart. That Republican may be gone so long, but his successor as well as said Democrat’s campaign cronies just can’t help bringing their bogeyman up. The incumbent looked backward yesterday in his campaign speech on the economy — where he was supposed to be about looking forward to his next term — to allude to the problems under his predecessor:
“From 2001 to 2008 we had the slowest job growth in half a century,” Obama said, arguing that the economy has done worse under recent Republican presidents. . . .
“Why do we think they would work better this time? We can’t afford to jeopardize our future by repeating the mistakes of the past,” Obama said, hoping to tie Romney’s policies to those of former President George W. Bush.
Repeating the mistakes of the past would mean failing to oversee the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) at the heart of the financial crisis. And, to borrow an expression, “living beyond our means” and needing “to make some adjustments”. Seems the incumbent is the one repeating his predecessor’s mistakes.
“In one sense,” observes Philip Klein, “it’s understandable that Obama is tempted to” blame Bush:
After all, it was the ferocity of the nation’s backlash against Bush that put Democrats in control of Congress in 2006 and made Obama’s meteoric political rise possible. Without Bush’s unpopularity, a “hope and change” message from a freshman Senator wouldn’t have had much resonance. But once a president is in office, the nation doesn’t care about how bad the last guy was – all they care about is whether or not the new president is getting results.
Maybe I’m wrong, but don’t recall reading about how Lincoln, in the darkest days of the Civil War, publicly bemoaned the problems he “inherited” from James Buchanan. Ronald Reagan “inherited” a sour economy and dispirited nation from Jimmy Carter, indeed, had attacked that Democrat’s record rigorously during the campaign, but once he took office, indeed, once he won election to the White House, he didn’t moan about the problems that Georgian left him.
Nor did George Washington blame George III for the problems that tyrannical monarch left behind when his government abandoned its erstwhile colonies.
UPDATE: The president, Matthrew Continetti reports, “mentioned our ‘decade’ of problems eight times [in yesterday’s talk], subtly excusing his inability to improve the domestic situation by diminishing any role he may have had in creating or prolonging it.“