When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, many in the media considered him a dangerous extremist.

Some reporters warned that Reagan courted nuclear war and would tank the economy. He certainly was not like the gentleman Republican and moderate ex-President Gerald Ford.

But by 1989, the media was fond of a new adjective: “Reaganesque.” Reagan in retirement and without power was seen as a senior statesman.

Not so for his once centrist and better-liked vice president, George H.W. Bush, who suddenly was reinvented as a fool and a ninny in comparison.

The transformations had already started in Reagan’s last year as president. In 1987, Newsweek magazine ran a cover story about Bush, who was running to succeed Reagan. The headline blared: “Fighting the ‘Wimp Factor.’”

“Wimp” was an odd take on someone who by age 20 had flown dangerous fighter missions in World War II, and had been shot down and nearly killed. Nonetheless, the cover story hyped “a perception that 1/8Bush3/8 isn’t strong enough or tough enough for the challenges of the Oval Office. That he is, in a single mean word, a wimp.”

Once elected president, Bush was variously trashed by the media as a warmonger, a whiny nerd and a Reagan wannabe. After he lost re-election bid to Bill Clinton in 1992, Bush was dismissed as a failed president.

But once Clinton’s two terms were over and Bush’s son, George W. Bush, became president in 2001, the elder Bush’s reputation was miraculously rehabilitated. The out-of-power, now-good elder Bush was used in comparisons to disparage his son, the supposedly “bad” Bush in power.

George H.W. Bush was fondly remembered as level-headed, while his son, the new president, was labeled rash and cocky. The first Bush supposedly was now a centrist, the second Bush an extremist.

During the tenure of Democratic President Barack Obama, George W. Bush in retirement was trashed for eight years. Hurricane Katrina was allegedly his fault alone. So was the 2008 economic meltdown.

Then, a strange — or rather, predictable — metamorphosis followed in 2016.

Eight years after Bush had left office — and had kept professionally quiet during the Obama years — he (like Ford, Reagan and his father) was wondrously rehabilitated by the media.

The supposedly failed Bush presidency was reinvented by journalists to contrast positively with President Trump’s purportedly disastrous ongoing tenure.

The media now praised the former president as a moderate. Bush — whom they had once dubbed a war criminal, racist and …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

      

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Hanson: Retired GOP presidents who stay quiet and nonpartisan rehabilitate faster

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