December 6th, 2008
02:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Bush must navigate a treacherous post-presidency

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="In his post-presidency, George Bush has plans to construct a presidential library and work on his memoirs."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's a position that John Quincy Adams once called downright pathetic: that of a former president.

After all, the process of relinquishing the most powerful job in the world isn't an easy one, especially given the American public's notoriously fleeting attention span and penchant for paying little heed to once-prominent political figures after they exit the public stage.

Watch the unveiling of Bush's presidential portrait in Philadelphia

As the days dwindle until President Bush joins what Herbert Hoover called the "most exclusive trade union in the world," the unpopular commander in chief appears decidedly enthusiastic about embracing a lower profile, recently declaring that he's more than ready to forgo the limelight.

Although ex-presidents in Adams' day quickly descended into obscurity after their years in the Oval Office, today the transition away from serving as the leader of the free world is high-profile, potentially very lucrative and, above all, a difficult job in itself.

This is especially true for Bush, historians and political observers say. He not only must oversee the construction of a presidential library and begin writing his memoirs, but he also must grapple with salvaging a legacy mired in the lowest presidential approval ratings in history.

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Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Matt, Chico, CA

    I will miss you Mr. President. I wish your post Washington years well.

    December 6, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |

    It is disappointing to see such hate-filled comments towards President Bush on the pages of CNN. Isn't this hate mongering the same thing that the liberal Democrats complained about when President Clinton left office? I seem to recall that when Republicans were bashing Pres. Clinton's transition to civilian life, the Democrat's bemoaned the lack of respect to the departing President. Now is the time to show how "respectful" you are to people who disagree with you.

    December 6, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. lovable liberal

    The only way for Bush to salvage his legacy would be to write the history books, and that's not possible without overthrowing Obama and establishing a dictatorship. Oh, and re-education camps for people like me...

    December 6, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. Pepou

    His legacy ? an economy in ruins, unecessary wars, a Constitution violated, Guantanamo, torture, you name it. I hope he ends up on trial for his crimes.

    December 6, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. SB

    Will President Bush stop Bloomberg and the MTA from increasing fares on subways and buses.

    December 6, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. lynn

    I can't stand you Bush hating, so called journalist, many of us out here
    do not agree with you hate-mongers. History will judge him, not your
    thrashing low lives.
    Having relatives in the arm service, they do not agree with you. Your all a bunch of cowards, they the men and women in the service admire President George Bush, and the cowards that do not have the guts to join the service, sit home and speil your hate of this moral man.
    To think he protected your yellow waffled behinds, is beyond belief. He probably can't wait to get away from you low lives.
    God Bless you Mr. President and your lovely, wife, I believe in you, let these lefties wallow in their hate.

    December 6, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. Sally

    If he knows what's good for him (which he obviously doesn't), he will remain VERY low key for many years to come, if not indefinitely. He was an awful Governor in Texas who never once heard the cries of innocents on Death Row. He plowed into a war HE wanted, and sat back trying to justify the death of over 4000 American troops, plus countless other nationals who gave their life for HIS ego.

    Comparing him to Jimmy Carter is an insult to Mr. Carter, he may not have been popular, but he was NOT an egotistical Persident who never listened or learned, as Dubya is.

    Hopefully, after January, we will watch him fade into obscurity and lament the life of poor Laura as she has to listen to his ramblings of "it was not my fault". George W Bush has a lot to answer for, hopefully he will be tried by his peers for his stupidity, but if not, his maker will surely judge him as the biggest disappointment in American history..

    December 6, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Larry

    If I ever have to look at this mans face again

    I hope he's peering out with his arrogant little punk face from behind bars

    He belongs in jail for murder ...

    Never mind Libraries and legacies

    December 6, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. craig rodden

    His legacy is one of sanity in an insane leftist political world. You socialists will enjoy your time in line at the soup kitchen I imagine.

    December 6, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. Larry

    Time and education will mellow what we think about George W,eventually people will know that the problems with the economy was inherited from Clinton,it is just like a cancer,and yes it happened while Bush was in office,but when the Republicans diagnosed the problems,it was the Democrats in congress that wouldn't address the problem and allowed it to blow up,it was ten years in the making and not Bush's fault.Depending on how we leave Iraq,as victors,or running away,will also effect Bush's legacy.

    December 6, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Bush had the guts to go kick the hornet's nest that everyone before him had ignored. He holds dear your freedom to post your vile, ridiculous comments.

    December 6, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. Claire , Canada

    I do not like President Bush but one has to acknowledge that he has kept America safe since that horrendous terrorist attack on 9/11.

    December 6, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Priscilla California

    Bush's legacy is one of lies, deceit and murder and he blames everyone else but himself for this mess. Go back to Texas hurry, hurry!

    December 6, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  14. Tbone

    The right-wingers are completely delusional if they believe that Bush will leave a positive legacy. Iraq? It doesn't matter how we leave, the stain that this war has left on our name in the world will not soon be cleansed or forgotten. His legacy is lying to the nation to get us into Iraq. His legacy is fomenting the use of torture by our troops and security agencies. His legacy is inaction on the economy. It's hilarious to hear people trying to blame Clinton–8 years later–for the mess with the economy. I guess Clinton conspired to force Bush to send a trillion dollars to Iraq that should have been spent rebuilding our own infrastructure and stimulating our own economy. His legacy will be worse than Nero's–he not only fiddled while America burned, he poured fuel on the fire.

    December 6, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  15. Mari

    It will be impossible for him to immediately rehabilitate his image. After all, he has not been a great President. Neither has he been our worst President. However, his problem with his legacy is the mess that both Iraq and Afghanistan have turned into. There is no way to "make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" so Bush should just not even try to undo the mess he made of the two war areas. Hardly one thing has turned out like he expected and in fact, most of his plans were simply terrible as plans for the conduct of both of these war theaters. A big helping of humility would have served President Bush very well. But alas, Bush was far to sure of himself where the wars were concerned so he never even tried to think through what the problems were in either Iraq or Afghanistan and then having done that, make appropriate changes. He is not a horrible President, simply not a good one. All that when he probably meant well. However, he has always been far too sure of himself. A bit of humility would have served him well, especially where these two wars were concerned. His legacy will not be pretty but probably mediocre like his approval rating is now.

    December 6, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. Robert N Forsyth

    George Bush and Dick Cheney should be prosecuted for War Crimes and Torture of prisoners by a World Court. They are the most despicable human beings (I use the word loosely in thier case) since Adolph Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. They have brought down the image of America to the level of Nazi Germany, the Khmer Rouge and Idi Amin. Thier sucking up to the Facist American Right Wing Pigs have dragged the American Economy and the rest of the World Economies into a World Wide Depression. Allowing Oil Corporation Diplomacy to dominate American Foreign Policy has created Al Queda and Osama Bin Laden and cost the lives of millions of Women, Children and Men. It is time for America to own up to the terrible things that we have done to other people in the World. Has anyone stopped to think about why these Islamic Terrorists Hate us so much (and don't tell me it is just about our support of Isreal)!

    December 6, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  17. Tim

    He should just poke anyone in the eye who criticizes his presidency. He was right on the big issues (including Iraq) and had a spineless population change their mind in the middle of conflict, a sure formula for defeat. We'll see how Obama leads during these difficult times. I'm sure he's getting ready to give away the house in the spirit of compromise, then we'll see how well America is situation against the rest of the world.

    December 6, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  18. Larry

    Hi ... I'm the other Larry

    Nothing will mellow the atrocities of George W. Bush

    May he suffer for all the pain he has induced upon others

    The man deserves no excuses for his actions

    December 6, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  19. william


    December 6, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  20. S. Robinson

    Since you wouln't allow what I just wrote – what Flex said.
    Couldn't have written any better!

    December 6, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  21. Ken in NC

    President Bush must navigate a treacherous post-presidency? Well he has the advantage as he created it. While I seriously doubt it, I hope he took good notes as he was creating his MASTERPEICE.

    December 6, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  22. Angie-OHIO

    larry get a clue. dumb,dumb bush and crazy cheney caused the problems we have today. When President Clinton was in office he had to clean up a mess after daddy bush. And clean up he did. People were working and were able to save money. That all changed when another bush stole the election, oh sorry, was elected. he had 1 thing on his mind WAR. bush/cheney are liars, cheaters and war mongers. Its too bad it took 2 terms for people to realize he was a total loser.

    DITTO Flex December 6th, 2008 3:15 pm ET

    His legacy is a right-wing, absolutist-christian-bigot, war mongering lunatic who destroyed the world economy!

    December 6, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  23. Brian

    It's his fault!

    The President is the one responsible for the recession and NO ONE can say otherwise.

    I hope the constitution is amended to allow Obama 16 years in the White House to correct this mess.

    Oh and forget about another election for the next 16 years – it will take allot to fix this nation and only Obama can do it.

    This country will have to accept Democratic control for the next few decades!

    Case closed!

    December 6, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  24. Jeanine G

    His legacy will be in creating a greater need for "soup kitchens", destroying the world economy, leaving the nation trillions in debt, and leaving thousands dead in an unnecessary war while he saunters off to man the grill and clear brush in Crawford. Presidential library? Just get a backhoe and save us all from having to see that blot the landscape.

    December 6, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  25. sunshine

    i wish you and your family a good life president bush.

    December 6, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
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