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Future Assessments of Administration Cold Comfort

09.05.2005 12:49 | DISPATCHES

From the Dossier of an Ex-Patriot.

Regarding President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and chairman of the Project for a New American Century, said, "Almost every Republican I have spoken with is disappointed."

Because, as evidenced by the Project for a New American Century itself, the administration prides itself on its visionary sweep, this assessment probably left it nonplussed. Let history be the judge, it might argue.

In 2004, some of the respondents to a notorious survey the History News Network conducted agreed. "The worst president ever?" one said. "Let history judge him."

Others weren't as hesitant. Robert McElvane, who suggested the survey, recorded the results in his article "Historians vs. George W. Bush." Of 415 historians polled, 338 classified the Bush presidency as a failure and 77 as a success. Twelve percent, exhibiting no patience with posterity whatsoever, rated it the worst in American history. "This president is unique in his failures," another said.

Meanwhile, contrary to what the administration is banking on, future judgments, freed by time from restraint, figure to be even harsher. However, it's hard to derive consolation from that prospect.

If the administration continues to take as hands-off an approach to government functions as, say, bodily functions, we'll be as vulnerable to nuclear terrorism as to natural disasters. Then there won’t be any history left in which to judge it.


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