Weird, but we don’t ever recall stories about how George W. Bush was left to deal with Bill Clinton’s hangover, especially how Clinton stubbornly refused to deal with the growing threat from Osama bin Laden. Yet five-and-a-half years into Obama’s presidency his press stenographers are still making excuses for the pathetic Obama.
Six years in, Barack Obama is still battling a Bush hangover.
The rising chaos in Iraq — and the blame game over who’s responsible — are the latest reminders that halfway through his own second term, he’s still often more consumed by dealing with the legacy of President George W. Bush than building his own.
Obama supporters see a president who found himself so deep in so many holes from his very first day in office that cleaning up the aftermath of the previous eight years was going to take at least eight of his own: getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, stabilizing the housing market and repairing the larger economic collapse, all while chopping a $1.2 trillion deficit in half.
To detractors, particularly those with allegiances to Bush, that argument comes off as another excuse for a president who’s been unable to deliver much — a man they see as so driven to be different from his predecessor that he’s often blundered into catastrophe.
To them, the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq — on what they say was a politically-driven timetable, not a strategic one — was the latest clear case in point.
But the ripples from the Bush years go well beyond the Islamic militants marching toward Baghdad, larger foreign policy and the economy. There’s the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay that Obama’s five-and-a-half years late in his promise to close. There’s the NSA surveillance apparatus he inherited (and bulked up significantly).
And with two-and-a-half years left, that shows little sign of changing.
“The hangover was much, much worse than I think any president’s been left with, with the exception of Andrew Johnson,” said Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and DNC chairman, though noting that in that case, he doesn’t blame Abraham Lincoln. “It underlines what unbelievable damage they did in just a short eight years.”
“Barack Obama has had to clean up the mess that was left him,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), ticking off the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, cutting the deficit and recovering from the recession. “On every front, he’s really moved forward for this nation.”
He’s such a success they’re still complaining about Bush. Pitiful.