Michael Beschloss: Historian Says Decades From Now Bush Legacy Could Be One Of High-Regard

Historians in the News

If presidential approval ratings are an accurate portrayal of American opinion, then President Bush will go down as the most unpopular president in American history to date, a prominent historian said here Saturday.

But history changes things. And decades from now, the Bush legacy could be one of high-regard and reverence, he added.

“The way presidential history works is that the longer you wait, the fairer the judgment,” said Michael Beschloss, one of the country’s premier presidential historians and a speaker Saturday during the Bristol Public Library’s summer lecture series. “Looking back, we have access to all kinds of information – letters, correspondence, records.”

Beschloss spoke in Kegley Auditorium at Virginia Intermont College before a nearly packed house that came to hear about his life, his work and his musings on the current political climate in America.

Beschloss, a New York Times best-selling author who has published eight books, spoke for more than an hour and touched on topics ranging from colorful anecdotes of former President Lyndon Johnson to the current race for the White House.

“Both campaigns are sort of lost in one-liners,” he said in an interview. “As long as people get a lot of their news from 24-hour sources, you’re putting a lot of emphasis on who can have a snappier commercial.”

Beschloss said cable television, the 24-hour news cycle and the pervading culture of immediacy has had a profound impact on presidential campaigns. There is no time for a long, nuanced discussion on complicated issues, he said. These information sources have affected the way people vote by elevating candidates that voters can relate to, Beschloss said....

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vaughn davis bornet - 9/17/2008

The longer the time that passes, the better the evaluation.

I could write at length about the unique case of President Herbert Hoover, since each new crop of historians seems more hostile, if anything, than the last. One would think Charlie Michelson was immortal, producing lies for each generation.

Even Republican incumbents and candidates are afraid to quote him. Consider the oddity of Reagan quoting FDR repeatedly, but for him HH didn't exist.

Oh, well, a paperback edition of Robinson and Bornet, Herbert Hoover: President of the United States will be out soon.

Not that historians of this day will know or care or react--after not reading it.

Vaughn Davis Bornet

Robert Hoover - 9/17/2008

"Looking back, we have access to all sorts of records?"
Not if the Bush-Cheney crew succeeds in sealing records, destroying e-mails and generally putting a lid on all access to public information.