February 7th, 2014

Still blaming Bush

Here’s a depressing poll:

Five years into Obama’s presidency, only a third of the public believes that Obama and the Democrats are primarily responsible for the country’s current economic problems.

More Americans continue to blame former President Bush and the Republicans. But the number who say the GOP is more responsible – now at 44% – has dipped below the 50% mark for the first time since Bush left the White House. Fourteen percent blame both parties equally.

Mind-boggling, isn’t it, how few people blame Obama? Perhaps not, though; propaganda works, after all.

I was interested in seeing how the question was framed, and going to the study itself I found this:

13. Do you think the policies of Barack Obama and the Democrats or George W. Bush and the Republicans are more responsible for the country’s current economic problems?

Seems like a pretty straightforward way to phrase it.

If you look at change over time, however, you will find something interesting: the percentage blaming Obama and the Democrats has been very stable with little variation. In September 2010, 33% of those polled blamed Obama and the Democrats, and between then and now there were five other readings (seven in toto) taken at intervals. These are the figures: 33%, 30%, 29%, 32%, 29%, 35%, 34%. It’s almost as though the vast majority of people made up their minds years ago and that nothing could change it. To about two-thirds of them, Obama will never be responsible for the poor state of the economy no matter what he does or does not do (although perhaps they give him credit for whatever good happens?).

It’s curious. A lot of people on the right will say that this refusal to blame Obama has something to do with his status as the first black president. But I’m not sure this is all that important, although it certainly has some Teflon-ish effect. But I think it has more to do with the fact that most people really are impressionable, don’t think too deeply about things political, and are constantly fed the MSM line that Obama isn’t responsible for problems. Never, never underestimate the power of an incessant media and talking head barrage.

One encouraging thing is the fact that, although the percentage blaming Bush and the Republicans also held remarkably steady through six surveys (from September 2010 to September 2012), and even seemed to increase ever-so-slightly over time (going from oldest to newest in that 2-year period, the figures were 53%, 55%, 57%, 52%, 56%, 57%), in the seventeen months between the September 2012 survey and the current one that percentage has plummeted. It now stands at 44%. However, those who left the “blame Bush and the Republicans” camp did not go over to the “blame Obama and the Democrats” camp; they ended up in the “blame both equally” or “neither” columns.

Interesting, although I’m not sure what to make of it. Perhaps it just reflects the increasing distance in time of the Bush administration and the general waning of hatred against him.

[ADDENDUM: I just noticed this post by William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. We certainly seem to agree about this.]

33 Responses to “Still blaming Bush”

  1. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    Neo you are absolutely correct about the effectiveness of repeated propaganda. Today most people would be astounded to be told that Richard Nixon had an overwhelming landslide in his run for president and that most people supported the Vietnam war. Only the change in reporting by Walter Cronkite and others to a drumbeat of defeat (and Nixon’s clumsy paranoia) changed the perceptions. At all stages of the Iraq war, the US and Allies controlled the situation with an astonishingly low level of casualties. The Anti-war protests while frequent involved only handfuls of participants. Again, only a constant drumbeat of negative coverage made the difference.

  2. blert Says:

    The waning has a lot to do with fatalities.

    Many political beliefs only die when the voter dies.

    The shift is very, very, likely due to young – UNEMPLOYED – twenty-somethings aiming their ire at Barry and Company.

    So what you’re looking at is actually the leading edge of a dire shift in attitudes.


    ZIRP is destroying entire careers.

    It’s ALWAYS very important WHEN your were born — as much as where you were born.

    Most famously, the West Point class of 1915 became the class the stars fell on. Graduating in 1914 didn’t work out at all. 1916 was just too late.

    Later, the Harvard class of 1947 became the year of the CEO. An astonishing fraction of that class rose like rockets straight to the top of the Fortune 500. 1946 did not do.

    Such unusual graduating classes illustrate — by their inversion — what’s happening to current graduates. They are seeds being cast upon stone.

    No major hiring organization wants to touch the unbidden graduates that entered the market in a rotten economic climate.

    This Greatest Depression is going to X out the better part of a generation.

    I would expect them to become politically radicalized. These days, that should take the form of conservative economics — for such attitudes are the furthest away from pop economics and the entire ethos of the maladministration.


    Wide open immigration must mean that the day of Peak Black Political Influence is at hand.

    Just ask Waters. Her district is now Mexican.

    Latinos are destined to surpass Blacks — and they’re rivals.

    What’s truly weird is that both the Speaker and the President want to push immigration towards policies that must deflate their own power bases. Such is madness.

    Ultimately, Barry is America’s first Anti-Black president.

    Which see: Black unemployment and wide open NAM immigration.

  3. Mr. Frank Says:

    Yes, propaganda works. If the MSM don’t explain how government regulation, tax policies, and anti energy policies stifle economic growth and job creation, the low information voters will never know. If the MSM don’t explain that severe recessions are usually followed by a brisk recovery and this one was not, the voters will never know. I take some solace in the knowledge that the people who voted for Obama (college students, blacks, women) are getting it good and hard.

  4. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Have some relations who still blame Bush. But their clearly uncomfortable defensiveness might mean they know better but they can’t admit it to me, who is…right.
    Should the discussion come up in any detail, it will go to Obama’s intentions, which are good, and the conservatives’, which are bad.

  5. expat Says:

    This phenomenon is why I am so frustrated by the circular firing squads on the right.They produce too much noise that confuses people and makes them tune out, instead of focussing on the problems caused by the left. The one good thing that could come from the current amnesty battle is the clear message that the right doesn’t trust Obama and Reid. All the unemployed young and the people screwed by Obamacare might just be able to connect with that message if it is repeated often enough and doesn’t push people to defend their own mistaken judgements.

  6. Gringo Says:

    In September 2010, 33% of those polled blamed Obama and the Democrats, and between then and now there were five other readings (seven in toto) taken at intervals. These are the figures: 33%, 30%, 29%, 32%, 29%, 35%, 34%.

    My take on it is that there is a certain percentage of Yellow Dog Democrats. Similarly, there is a hard core of about 30% of the Venezuelan electorate that is hard-core Chavista who will vote Chavista come hell or high water.

  7. kaba Says:

    I can’t help but wonder how many of the public have heard more than the leftist side of the argument? How many know that the 2008 economic meltdown was largely caused by ill conceived housing policies which Carter, Clinton, Franks, and Todd were responsible for ?

    The angelic messengers of truth known as the news media have certainly done their best to hide and misguide.

  8. M J R Says:

    “However, those who left the ‘blame Bush and the Republicans’ camp did not go over to the ‘blame Obama and the Democrats’ camp; they ended up in the ‘blame both equally’ or ‘neither’ columns.”

    It’s very hard for people — including me! — to consent to a total change of base on a given issue, much less on a category of issues (in this instance, the category of anything having to do with the financial pickle the country’s in).

    I propose that it’s about all we can ask, for someone to stop blaming Bush and the Republicans. That’ll have to suffice for the time being — after all, Bush and the Republicans are no angels; have often acquiesced, sometimes practically pleading to be recognized as Democrat-lite; and have rarely made the case (if any) for why they should be trusted over the Democrat side.

    Certainly Romney didn’t, certainly McCain didn’t, both Bushes were woefully inarticulate, and in between we had the charismatic Bob Dole [sarcasm], who also rarely if ever made the case to be made for trusting the Republican approach.

    Hell, *I* don’t trust ‘em, and I ain’t no leftie.

  9. Otiose Says:

    I grew up well after the Great Depression. My parents consistently held that Hoover caused it and Roosevelt fixed it or tried to.

    Obama has been following Roosevelt’s playbook in several ways. One is the propaganda outpouring that it was all Bush’s fault.

    I saw much of Bush’s reactions to provide liquidity and the first round of stimulus as frantic attempts to try and avoid being Hooverized.

    As with Hoover/Roosevelt Bush/Obama economic approaches were not all that different.

  10. Ymarsakar Says:

    Propaganda works by letting people think they came up with Idea A on their own. When in fact, they were merely puppets believing as they were told. Many Leftist propagandists, due to weak training and spines, believe in their own propaganda. Also known as true believers or fanatics of the Leftist Utopian fascist death cult. The Left is a religion first and foremost. A religion has propaganda in the form of dogma and the enforcement of it is called burning out heresy.

  11. Ray Says:

    You can’t blame Obama because he’s black and blacks aren’t responsible for anything. That’s the blatant racism of no expectations.
    Some years ago Bill Cosby was the keynote speaker at an NAACP convention and he blasted the blacks for the high crime rate, the high single mother rate, the high school drop out rate, etc. When he finished the head of the NAACP went to the podium and said that these problems were not the fault of the black community. Evidently the problems are the fault of the evil white man.
    Here is a transcript of the speach.

  12. Yancey Ward Says:

    Personally, I blame George Washington for everything.

  13. Yancey Ward Says:

    If the US were swallowed by a black hole, you would have Democrats claiming Barack Obama made it better than would have been

  14. southpaw Says:

    “Do you think…”
    there’s the problem rightthere..
    next question should be “can you explain why ?”

  15. JoyO Says:

    The Democrats are so brainwashed. I went to a training session so I can register voters. One of the Democrats in the class made a Remark about my husband’s ” We the People” hat. Later on, she made a comment that the Republicans don’t want people to vote. During the class she made a comment about the unfairness of Hobby Lobby’s position on the Obamacare mandates. I only responded to her comments by telling her we want people to vote– we just want them to be informed when they vote!

  16. blert Says:


    Both FDR and BHO ran as being NOT Hoover, NOT Bush…

    And then tripled down on the exact same policies.

    Take a look at Barry’s use of drones!

    FDR triggered the abyss of the Depression by running up the notion that he would de-monetize gold — during the late campaign of 1932.

    He capped it all off by enacting the Bank ‘Holiday’ which catastrophically shrunk the base of money lending across the nation.

    No wonder the money supply collapsed!!!

    Money, in our modern credit based age, is CREATED when banks lend money. It’s destroyed when loans are defaulted on, and… when loans are repaid.

    This reality went, z o o m, straight over the heads of FDR’s whiz kids at the Treasury.

    Government spending was no substitute.


    Flash forward to today:

    Barry’s brainiacs are entirely replicating the spendist nostrums of the Great Depression — during the Greatest Depression.

    The results are epic unemployment — hidden by EBT wealth transferences, and a massive contraction in commercial activities.

    This is topped off by debasing the currency even more radically than FDR.

    We’re in the same old groove.


  17. parker Says:

    From Forbes: http://tinyurl.com/7b5ylp6 The race to the bottom is approaching the finish line. This is not going to end well. Abenomics is just the most aggressive form of this madness, the devaluation game is the last gasp: http://tinyurl.com/m686xr7

  18. neo-neocon Says:


    But the percentage that stayed the same—about a third of the populace—was the group that DID blame Obama. Not the yellow dog Democrats. Two-thirds of the electorate did NOT blame Obama. Those proportions have remained steady ever since 9/2010.

    What it means is that the only group that blames Obama is the one-third of the population that are conservatives (yellow dog or otherwise :-) ).

  19. NeoConScum Says:

    Lies/Propaganda/+Low Info Voters by the Zillions=Blame Booooosh AFTER 6-YEARS!!

    Mind boggling and stunning. It hits me directly in my post-November 6, 2012 Cynic Side.

  20. jms Says:

    Why are we only allowed to see questions 12 and 13? This poll is impossible to analyze without seeing the first 11 questions. The first 11 questions could well be of the form “Did you know that under the Bush administration billions of dollars were handed out to corrupt corporations to lay off workers?” How do we know that this isn’t just a complete push poll?

  21. Charles Says:

    Of course Bush is at fault. I just did my laundry today, and when I got home I noticed that I lost a sock – so, of course, I blamed Bush; who else would I blame? The fictional sock monster? That would be silly.

  22. OlderandWheezier Says:

    The question that most people fail to consider, and which the media refuses to ask, is whether the policies of this administration have had a negative impact on the recovery. It’s easy to note that the financial meltdown occurred on W’s watch, and therefore to blame him and Republicans for the economic woes we face.

    But it requires far more effort (and courage) to ask honestly whether the policies and priorities of a different president/administration might have led to a sharper recovery. Especially since rapid recoveries historically follow sudden meltdowns.

    From the outset this administration focused not on the crisis itself, but on manipulating the crisis in order to push through an agenda that very likely has hamstrung the healing of our economy. Yet our so-called journalists are either unable or unwilling to address the apparent impact of such policies. And voters are too lazy too care or to seek answers for themselves.

  23. George Says:

    ” But I think it has more to do with the fact that most people really are impressionable, don’t think too deeply about things political, and are constantly fed the MSM line that Obama isn’t responsible for problems. Never, never underestimate the power of an incessant media and talking head barrage. ”
    All, I believe, true. Impressionable, yes. But I’m afraid that there is something else – the need to conform. You and I may see propagandists and socialists doing “the news”, but viewers who are addicted to this stuff make a real personal connection with these personalities. To think and believe and say the same things makes one a person who is caring and concerned. To ridicule or disbelieve it makes one an outsider.
    Too bad that the supply of individuals who wish to exercise free will and face reality is a little on the short side when it comes to these things.

  24. David Yotham Says:

    Neo, I know of people who were raised during the time of Adolf Hitler and who still long for the days when he was in power – and the promise of the German Reich was bright and shiny. There is also the example of that strongman Stalin – man ex-Soviet citizens miss the days of his rule of terror. How about Fidel Castro? Everyone has seen photo’s of Havana showing how run down and decrepit the city looks, as well as hearing about all the shortages in food and manufactured goods – yet many Cubans still support him.

    Brainwashing does work. The frightening thing is that any child born in 1995 was starting the First Grade during the 9/11 attack. They’ll be in college now, susceptible to the liberal brainwash. These young adults have had their entire lives formed and shaped by Bush and Carter, and if they’re from a Liberal household they heard their parents criticize Bush nightly. These are the children who will run this country in 10-20 years, and they will not operate as conservatives. I fear a One World government will be the expected norm, a form of socialist fascism (American style) operating within our borders. The attacks on the family have been very effective (abortion, feminism, homosexuality, anti-God, etc) as well as the attacks on our prosperity. Poverty awaits America, in my opinion, without the strong family ties to restore the country. Liberty and Freedom will have become merely words – without meaning.

  25. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Growing ever more shameless–if that is possible–the newest Democrat defense of Obamacare’s likely forcing of 2.5 million workers out of their jobs, used by a Democrat congressman in yesterday’s hearing on the CBO report, was that it was a good thing that all of these workers are to become jobless, because “now they can tuck their kids in at night.”

    Are people really that dumb that they will accept this crap?

    I guess by this kind of logic, the sooner you die the better, because each day you are no longer among the living is a day that the burden on “Mother Earth” is a little lighter, because of all the water and food, material, and various forms of energy you will not be consuming, and the the pollution you will no longer be creating.

  26. Cornhead Says:

    The word needs to go out to the MSM that RWR fixed a much worse economy in 3 years. And there is a chart in Peter Robinson’s great book “How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life” that proves it.

    Reagan knew economics and human nature. Obama doesn’t.

  27. Matt_SE Says:

    Totally OT:


    Paul Ryan 48%, Hillary 43%; Rand Paul 47%, Hillary Clinton 43%; Ted Cruz 43%, Hillary 44%; Christie 42%, Hillary 43%.

    Told ya about Rand Paul…though Ryan’s showing gives me pause.

  28. Don Carlos Says:

    Kentucky poll shows McConnell the chinless in a very tight race with his likely Democratic opponent; yet McConnell leads Bevin the conservative, in the GOP primary(30 May) poll by twenty percent.

    We cannot save the Nation by fighting internal foes (in the KY Senate race, the foes are the Dem and McConnell). Ain’t gonna work. The internal foes mean the ruin of the Nation and they have already largely succeeded.

  29. holmes Says:

    The mistake here is assuming people have progressed- we have not. We still believe in magic talisman, with the President being the main one. When good things happen under him, it means he is good and good luck for the nation. When bad things happen, it is his fault and he needs to be stoned. The crisis happened while Bush was in office, ergo, his fault and the fault of Republican rule from 2000-2006. The Democratic Congress is never to be blamed, by the way. Defecits under Bush? Bush’s fault. Deficits under Reagan? Reagan’s fault (despite a Democratic congress). We’re not that far removed from the magical thinking of the Salem Witch trials here really. It’s just about finding the right person on which to affix blame.

    I wonder what people say about the ACA and who is to blame there though.

  30. Mike Says:

    The blame belongs to people who blame Bush.

    The fact that there are a lot of them shows how morally and intellectually degraded many Americans have become.

    That’s the problem to focus on.

    When such poll s come out our side should be lambasting and condemning the so-called “people” to the max. They are an embarrassment to the entire tradition and all the forbears of this country.

    In short, they are an absolute disgrace as individuals and we should keep telling the worthless ingrates that.

  31. q Says:

    as a business strategy advisor I often have to tell change agents about Napoleon’s Thirds:
    1. one third of people are for anything
    2. one third of people are against anything
    3. focus on swaying the remaining third…

  32. Eric Says:

    The contest is over The Narrative and The Zeitgeist and defining the norms.

    In the arena, truth is elective. The narrative is not limited by the truth. Rather, the truth is as elastic as the narrative.

  33. Eric Says:

    Because the meta contest is normative and fought over The Narrative and The Zeitgest:

    It’s worthwhile in 2014 to mount a dedicated campaign to rehabilitate Bush’s legacy as President.

    Set the record the straight.

    I stopped short of saying ‘still’ worthwhile, because now may actually be the best moment to strike with a Bush-legacy rehab counter-propaganda campaign. The 5 year interval may have widened a vulnerable gap in the Democrats false-narrative propaganda just enough for the campaign to be effective, where it may not have been previously.

    What’s the relevance?

    The relevance is blame-Bush, as Neo demonstrated, is *not* old news. The Democrats continue to rely on their manufactured blame-Bush as their shield. Even when not directly referred to, blame-Bush is still the implicit backdrop in the zeitgeist of their superior popular political position over the GOP. It’s a credit to the Dems/Left propagandists that it’s a position that has been strong enough to withstand a remarkably poor presidential record by Obama.

    On the level of The Narrative and The Zeitgeist, setting the record straight on Bush would take away the shield from the Democrats and drop the Democrats to an inferior popular political position.

    This sort of understanding of the contest is part of playing the Marxist-method activist game, which is the only social-political game there is.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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