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10 March 2010

Do you miss George W Bush?

The rehabilitation of the US ex-president begins.

By George Eaton

Of course you don’t. But a growing number of Americans do.

The most visible sign of George W Bush’s rehabilitation is a now famous billboard in Wyoming, Minnesota, featuring a smiling, waving Bush, opposite the line: “Miss me yet?”

Rumour originally suggested that the billboard was an internet hoax, but reporters on the ground in Wyoming soon confirmed it was real. That just left the question of who paid for the thing. Bob Collins of NPR’s Minnesota Public Radio eventually revealed the culprits:

Mary Teske, the general manager of Schubert & Hoey Outdoor Advertising reports, “The Bush Miss Me Yet? billboard was paid for by a group of small business owners who feel like Washington is against them. They wish to remain anonymous. They thought it was a fun way of getting out their message.”

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So, even though Bush’s legacy includes an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and economic collapse, it turns out that the poster isn’t intended to be ironic.

But businessmen aren’t the only ones indulging in Bush revisionism. Over at the New York Times, Stanley Fish points to a recent Newsweek cover story which argues that Bush’s decision to invade Iraq has been vindicated by the country’s most recent election.

He also puts his finger on why a significant section of the US electorate are ready to reassess the 43rd president:

Bush’s policies came to seem less obviously reprehensible as the Obama administration drifted into embracing watered-down versions of many of them. Guantanamo hasn’t been closed. No Child Left Behind is being revised and perhaps improved, but not repealed. The banks are still engaging in their bad practices. Partisanship is worse than ever.

But Barack Obama need not fear: most Americans don’t really want his predecessor back in the White House. A recent Newsmax/Zogby poll found that, in a hypothetical election between Obama and Bush, Obama would win by 48 per cent to 38 per cent.

And yet, if, as my colleague Mehdi Hasan contends, Obama has morphed into Bush, perhaps it’s not surprising that some Americans long for the real thing.

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