George W. Bush and former U-T owner Douglas Manchester
  • George W. Bush and former U-T owner Douglas Manchester
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Many in San Diego will not forget the Union-Tribune's "Our Mount Rushmore: The five best U.S. presidents" editorial headline of 2012. The editorial board concluded George W. Bush was the fifth-best president ever (tied with his dad) and deemed Barack Obama the worst ever.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Highly reputable presidential historian Jean Edward Smith, has just come out with a new book on George W. Bush. It's called Bush. Its first words: "Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush."

The author is no hatchet-man or crackpot. He "made a name for himself in part with masterly biographies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant," says the New York Times.

John Lynch

John Lynch

Siena College polls experts on the presidency every few years. Scholars are asked to rate presidents on such things as integrity, intelligence, court appointments, and domestic and foreign policy accomplishments. In 2010, George W. Bush was rated 39th of 43 presidents, putting him in the bottom five. In 2014, the Washington Post did a survey of 162 presidential scholars. Bush came in 35th.

The owner and chief executive of the U-T in 2012, Douglas Manchester and John Lynch, respectively, are both gone.

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Comments

Visduh July 5, 2016 @ 1:53 p.m.

At the very least, historians generally agree that appraising the performance of presidents cannot be done until many years have passed. So that silly piece in the rag was at best ill-timed. If the editors had wanted to recommend that readers who thought badly of Bush hold off on their judgement, and had made an attempt to weigh positives and negatives, it might have been appropriate. As it was, the arguments in the story were either weak or non-existent.

As for myself, the fact that both Texan presidents we had in my lifetime led the nation into war that had poor public support and an unsatisfactory outcome says it all.

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Don Bauder July 5, 2016 @ 2:57 p.m.

Visduh: Good point. Jean Edward Smith is a distinguished scholar and writer.

In past books, he has not been given to overstatements. In "Bush" he makes some strong observations which are, unfortunately, quite believable. Example: "Whether George W. Bush was the worst president in American history will be long debated, but his decision to invade Iraq is easily the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president."

So much for foreign policy. Smith looks at domestic policy: the Patriot Act "may be the most ill-conceived piece of domestic legislation since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798." Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan July 5, 2016 @ 2:45 p.m.

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. - Albert Einstein

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Don Bauder July 5, 2016 @ 3 p.m.

shirleyberan: Peace can be won by force. World War II is a good example. But keeping the peace requires understanding, as Einstein says.

A war can be won with force. But winning the peace requires more. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi July 5, 2016 @ 8:58 p.m.

It was bad enough that Vice-President Bush II had a DUI, but President Dick Cheney had been convicted of to DUI's. Wonder how many DUI's these two drunks got away with due to their class and status. Anyway, Bush II does not have a place on Mt. Rushmore.. no he should be studying Spanish in Guantanamo Prison.

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jtmkinsd July 5, 2016 @ 11:18 p.m.

Either of them leave a woman to drown in a car they ran off a bridge?

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Don Bauder July 6, 2016 @ 5:34 a.m.

jtmknsd:….and then cook up a tale that he panicked and swam out to sea, leaving the young lady inside the car at the bottom of the drink.

The one that got me is that Ted's lawyer, asked why he did not call the cops or a rescue squad while she was down at the bottom, said that he did not have his client's permission. At the very least, he should have been disbarred. Or punished criminally. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 6, 2016 @ 5:30 a.m.

Ponzi: George W. Bush had no place on Mt. Rushmore, but the U-T put him there. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan July 6, 2016 @ 9:12 a.m.

I vote worst in my time was Reagan. Avoided AIDS crisis while creating mandatory jail for crack but not cocaine ( Bush II ). Created mass broken families in the black community.

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Don Bauder July 6, 2016 @ 9:58 a.m.

shirleyberan: Some historians judge a president on how he or she moved public opinion on an important issue. On that criterion, Reagan would get a high score. He was opposed (or said he was opposed) to big government, tough regulation, etc. while favoring tax cuts and a military buildup.

Goldwater got slaughtered in 1964 taking a conservative line. Only 16 years later, Reagan won with it. Of course, there are lot of other variables -- for example, there was such a wave of Kennedy assassination sorrow that anybody would have lost to Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan July 6, 2016 @ 9:37 a.m.

But Don, these clowns are always re-writing history and wouldn't tell the truth if somebody punched them in their big red rubber nose.

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Don Bauder July 6, 2016 @ 10 a.m.

shirleyberan: I can't argue with you. Historians are infamous for their constant revisions of major lines of thought. Best, Don Bauder

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SportsFan0000 July 6, 2016 @ 7:02 p.m.

The UT had a reputation as rather expensive bird cage liner. When relatives would visit from other cities they would very often point out the very poor quality of the paper in the Editorial and News Departments. It was an embarrassing testament to "dumbing down" of the product and their public. Readers dropped/quit the UT at an alarmingly high rate since it turned into a trashliner of propaganda for the right wing and the Republican Party. To be fair, I am sure the massive staff cuts by penny pinching ownership was also a major factor in the quality of the UT tanking badly... (However, ownership always found wads of cash for lavish parties, booze and allegedly drugs). The right wing partisanship was a huge turnoff to me and probably at least half the population in this region. It was and is very stupid business practices to write off half of your potential customer base by pissing them off on a daily basis with far right wing opinionated news and editorial propaganda. It is not the textbook example of how to win friends, influence people, win readership and make profits by writing off over a million people right out of the gate so to speak.

It was not a total loss though. Don Bauder's investigative business reporting was top notch and always worth a read. They had a few very good sports journalists until most were thrown overboard in cost cutting moves. The comics sometimes provided a good laugh.

The UT had a sleigh of major problems the biggest being stupidly righting off moderates and progressives as potential customers from the gitgo and a close second was putting political hacks and inexperienced family members (nepotism) in charge and not real professional news journalists... What a complete train-wreck the management of the UT has been for decades. Now, the rewards for decades of running this once great paper into the ground is that it is turning into a throwaway shopper paper printed in LA?! Yikes!!! Hopefully, the succession of corporate managers and companies did not loot the pension funds too badly....for those who served in good faith....in that mismanaged enterprise..

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ImJustABill July 6, 2016 @ 7:32 p.m.

I think GWB will ultimately be considered a poor POTUS due to 3 major failures which he was in large part responsible.

  1. War in Iraq based on erroneous WMD claims.

GWB was largely responsible for pushing subordinates so hard to "find" WMD evidence that false information ("chemical Ali") wasn't properly vetted. 100's of thousands of people lost their lives in the fighting and the US lost power and prestige due to the Iraq War.

  1. Mortgage meltdown

Amazingly, one person, GWB pushed both a really stupid liberal idea - that everybody should be able to buy a house regardless of whether or not they could afford it AND a really stupid conservative idea - that financial markets could be rapidly de-regulated.

  1. Katrina crisis

The federal gov't should have done a better job providing aid and assistance. Hurricanes give several days of warning, and at least 24 hrs before landfall it was clear that the massive flooding was a very possible scenario based on hurricane path projections.

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Don Bauder July 6, 2016 @ 8:53 p.m.

SportsFan0000: I, too, am puzzled by the U-T's current management -- under the thumb of the LA Times -- continuing the rightwing rants, although it is nowhere near as redneckish as it was under Manchester and Lynch, or under Copley.

Management perhaps figures that although Democrats outnumber Republicans in the city, the county is about even. Possibly, the newspaper's readership is largely conservative Republican, as it has been in the past. I don't think management believes it is "writing off" liberals, progressives, and moderates with its editorial tone. It is just taking a stance, as is its prerogative.

However, this is a new day for metro dailies -- a very risky day. No paper can afford to write off any readers. Best, Don Bauder

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Flapper July 9, 2016 @ 4:21 p.m.

The quality of any editorial page/board is the growth of its wooden nose . . .

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 7:57 p.m.

Flapper: And the wooden heads who write the editorials. Best, Don Bauder

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Flapper July 11, 2016 @ 1:58 a.m.

Not to mention those of the puppeteers.

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Don Bauder July 7, 2016 @ 4:45 p.m.

ImJustABill: Interesting points. Let me expatiate on each. 1. The purported information used as a basis for Iraq War II was not simply erroneous. Cheney deliberately falsified evidence. Bush was not about to step on either Cheney or Rumsfeld, who were anxious to get the country into this war. Some intelligent politicians, such as Ted Kennedy and Bernie Sanders, voted against this war, suspecting that the information had been altered. Why didn't the word that the information was false get around Washington DC before the vote?

  1. The mortgage meltdown and Great Recession. This can't be completely blamed on Bush. The Federal Reserve kept saying there was no mortgage bubble. Only a very few saw that the bond ratings (AAA for absolute junk) were phony. Thus, the derivatives based on bad mortgage paper were a time bomb. It exploded.

  2. Katrina. Everybody knew that New Orleans was a potential disaster. I remember sitting in a doctor's office. I picked up an old National Geographic and read about the disaster that could happen in New Orleans. But it had already happened! Then I checked the date and saw that this prescient piece of journalism had, indeed, been written before Katrina. Yes, Bush handled it abominably. Remember his statement, "You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie." Brown was the highest-ranking bureaucrat with responsibility for handling the disaster. Brown had been asleep at the switch, as had Bush. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill July 7, 2016 @ 8:09 p.m.

The mortgage meltdown can and should be blamed on A LOT of people and organizations but I still think ultimately the buck on that one stops with GWB. He was the one pushing hard for easy mortgages AND pushing for easier Wall Street regulations. The way I see it, a really dumb liberal idea AND a really dumb conservative idea. Both from the same guy.

Brownie was completely unqualified to lead FEMA - apparently his qualifications had more to do with who he was friends with and how nicely starched his shirts were.

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Don Bauder July 8, 2016 @ 3:23 p.m.

ImJusstABill: The deregulation of Wall Street was the dumbest act of the Bill Clinton administration. On Wall Street, greed is the only avenue to success, and the only measurement of success is money. It is a sea of mendacity.

My father worked on LaSalle Street in Chicgo for more than 40 years as a bond salesman, bond trader, stockbroker, and investment banker. He was an arch-conservative who hated government interference of any kind in the economy. But he believed the investment business should be regulated. He also believed that many Wall Streeters belonged in prison. Best, Don Bauder

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Flapper July 8, 2016 @ 4:21 p.m.

You knew your Father; your Father was a friend of yours . . . but dese goys ain't no Mr. Bauder!

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Don Bauder July 9, 2016 @ 7:49 a.m.

Flapper: Did you intend to use the word "goys" or did you mean to say "guys"? It makes a lot of difference. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 8 p.m.

Flapper: A double-pun that can get one in trouble. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill July 9, 2016 @ 3:19 p.m.

What I fault GWB for is not understanding the pros / cons of different philosophies and trying to mix and match liberal and conservative ideas in a way that doesn't work at all.

I think de-regulation might have worked IF the administration and financial leaders knew and accepted the risks. That means that if companies fail they FAIL - regardless of the consequences. If the administration wasn't committed to accepting that potential outcome they should have rolled back the deregulation.

The markets need to be regulated by either the free market or by the government. Personally I prefer the free market regulating things but there is now way too much corruption and the precedent has been clearly established that TBTF corporations will always get bailed out. So now we HAVE to have big government regulation on the market.

Fiscal conservatives should hate GWB more than liberals because GWB killed any chance for a financial system to work without massive government for decades.

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 8:02 p.m.

ImJustABill: Bush called himself a compassionate conservative. That was just an invention of Rove. He didn't have compassion. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill July 9, 2016 @ 3:21 p.m.

It's beyond incredible that there aren't more people in prison for fraudulent actions during the mortgage meltdown.

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 8:03 p.m.

ImJustABill: So true. But blame Obama and his attorney general for not prosecuting the offenders. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 6:48 a.m.

Flapper: But was it somnolence or lack of gray matter? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 11, 2016 @ 6:26 a.m.

Flapper: Good point. Best, Don Bauder

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Psycholizard July 8, 2016 @ 2:42 p.m.

We can all agree on one point, George W. Bush remains the greatest mind in the Republican Party. The latest primaries remove all doubt.

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Don Bauder July 8, 2016 @ 3:29 p.m.

Psycholizard: I salute your sarcasm. But you know perfectly well that George W. Bush was slow on the learning curve, to put it gently. The two people that played him like a violin, Cheney and Rumsfeld, are evil and probably sociopathic. But I have to admit they are smart. George W. Bush is not. Best, Don Bauder

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Psycholizard July 8, 2016 @ 5:35 p.m.

The rest are plainly cynical or completely insane. Bush doesn't have the anger that now destroys the Republican Party. He isn't a bigot, even if he is not a thinker. He was a disaster as President, but much of the fault should be shared by the nation as a whole. Those who claim to be deceived believed the impossible. We are ready to repeat our mistakes, because we blame the idiot leader, rather than the flaws in our outlook.

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Flapper July 9, 2016 @ 5:29 p.m.

This needs shouting from the rooftops!

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 6:53 a.m.

Flapper: When you remember those days prior to going into Iraq 2, you can't help but realize why we are called "sheeple." We follow our leaders blindly. When our leaders lack brain power, a disaster may occur. One did in Iraq 2. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 6:56 a.m.

Flapper: Could the nation go from a dolt (Bush II) to a hopeless narcissist (Trump) ? The thought is frightening. Best, Don Bauder

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Flapper July 10, 2016 @ 10:57 a.m.

From lazy and stupid to active and stupid? (As the Kaiser said of the latter, "I have them shot!!")

"Men are either active or lazy; intelligent or stupid. The active and intelligent make excellent field officers, the lazy and intelligent make excellent staff officers, the lazy and stupid make excellent privates . . .

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 8:06 p.m.

Flapper: And sometimes the lazy and stupid get elected to high office. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill July 9, 2016 @ 3:24 p.m.

One party rule - (which we have in CA for example) - is not good in my opinion. There are pros and cons of different political philosophies and I think an intelligent debate between the different points of views is healthy.

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 8:08 p.m.

ImJustABill: But here's one to ponder: Is the two-party system so great for America? I know that multi-party systems cause havoc in Europe and Latin America, but not always. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 9, 2016 @ 12:04 p.m.

Psycholizard: I remember the immediate period before we went into Iraq. There was jingoistic hysteria in America. One of the best examples of the mood of the times was this: a well-known TV host had a guest on his show who opposed the war. The TV host was fired. To my knowledge, the host had not taken a position on the war. He had simply had a guest who opposed it.

The information given to justify the war had huge holes in it. Intelligent people sensed the information had been altered. But hysteria pushed us into history's most reprehensible war. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld created that hysteria. All three should have been tried for war crimes. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 6:59 a.m.

Flapper: I will take an intelligent demagogue to an unintelligent Texan any time. Best, Don Bauder

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Psycholizard July 10, 2016 @ 1:46 p.m.

Our military returns to Iraq because we haven't learned from our mistakes, thanks to our deeply flawed world view. that imagines we can impose justice on other peoples. Blaming Bush and his henchmen won't fix that thinking, even though they deserve to be treated as they treated the prisoners in their control. I fear that Hillary Clinton, brilliant though she is, might blunder horribly, might even assist an Israeli invasion of Syria. Bill Clinton's policy led directly to the Iraq disaster. Hillary hasn't changed her thinking.

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 8:12 p.m.

Psycholizard: I fear that Hillary Clinton will be far too hawkish if she gets elected. But I really fear Trump: like all narcissists, he takes even faint criticism as a personal insult. Who knows how he would react to an insult from Putin or someone in the Middle East. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 8:14 p.m.

Eddie Arcadia: Yes, and right now it is slowly drowning, but its editorial page shouldn't get the blame. Metro dailies are uniformly drowning. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 10, 2016 @ 8:16 p.m.

Daniel Vitkus: Agreed. George W. Bush was very possibly the worst president ever, but Buchanan and Harding were pretty bad, too. The Manchester era at the U-T was an embarrassment to San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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Flapper July 11, 2016 @ 2:06 a.m.

If Hillariously tone-deaf Hillary were actually Elizabeth, I would vote for her. I probably would, just to keep jackoff-boy out of the White House. But the Democrats are in serious danger of, by hanging on to Hillaryous, of handing the election, in a close vote, to Little Boy Trumpty-Dumpty. If the Democrats had any sense, they would get behind Bernie, who would draw a lot of pissedoff Americans away from that idiot.

But, they won't. So wait for the bowling alley to be replaced with roulette wheels (secret decision-makers of our destiny).

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Don Bauder July 11, 2016 @ 6:35 a.m.

Flapper: One of the big questions of this election season is whether the Bernie supporters will vote for third-party candidates. That could hand the election to Trump. Best, Don Bauder

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