In the aftermath of the death of former U.S. President George H. W Bush, editorial cartoonists are creating obit cartoons and reposting old cartoons from when he was president from 1989 to 1993. While a few of my drawings (here and here) included Bush Sr. in editorial cartoons during his son’s Presidency, I was a university student at the time when he was at the helm, and submitting cartoons to campus newspaper, The Fulcrum. Back then my political cartooning was in the form of a wordy, densely illustrated weekly comic strip called Alas & Alack. In November 1989, Bush had been President for less than a year, leading in the shadow of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, at a time monumental changes were happening in the world, among them the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the cold war. At the time the President seemed desperate to put his own mark on history. With references to Ronald Reagan, Leonid Breshnev, JFK, and even Donald Trump.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday November 11, 2016
Obama’s legacy is on the line with Trump’s win
President Obama urged the country to unify Wednesday and pledged to work with President-elect Donald Trump, a candidate who for months he blasted as unfit to lead the country and who will now be succeeding him in office.
“It is no secret that the president-elect and I have had some pretty significant differences,” Obama said of Trump in a Rose Garden address. “One thing you realize in this job is that the presidency and the vice presidency is bigger than any of us.”
Obama likened the presidency to a relay race, telling the hundreds of exhausted and emotionally shaken White House staffers who packed the Rose Garden that they were leaving the country in a better position than it was eight years ago.
But for Obama, the election of Trump and the Republicans’ control of Congress puts at risk many of his signature policies over the past eight years. At the core of Trump’s campaign was a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to scrap Obama’s executive actions on immigration and climate change. Trump also has promised to undo the president’s deal to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the biggest foreign policy achievement of Obama’s second term.
Many of the changes to Obama’s signature programs could happen quickly. Trump has vowed to pull out of the Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gases and has promised to cancel an Environmental Protection Agency power-plant rule that is intended to cut emissions by about 30 percent over the next nine years, compared with 2005 levels.
On immigration, Trump vowed to overturn Obama’s executive actions to grant work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants, including more than 700,000 younger immigrants already benefiting from the program. A Trump administration could also drop the government’s defense of legal challenges to his executive actions on immigration.
Obama’s push to persuade Congress to ratify the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal that Trump savaged on the campaign trail, now looks dead. Trump has vowed to renegotiate other existing deals that are already in place. (Continued: Washington Post)
We’re on the cusp of witnessing history in the United States. A brief moment in time when the stars have aligned symbolizing unity and hope. Across the world, across party lines, across the races, masses of humanity will celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama. Then, the hard work will begin, hopes will be crushed, and the magic of Obama will begin its inevitable downward slide.
There is no denying how significant this particular transfer of power will go down in history. One can’t discount the twist of fate that finds the U.S. holiday marking the birthdate of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preceding this historic inauguration by one day. It’s hard not to find some parallels to the ascendency of two sons of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, and Obama, both lawyers and state legislators, both advocates of human rights, and both successors of a top job left in a mess by its predecessor.
George Bush leaves office perceived as a bad President as much as Barack Obama has already been bestowed the honour by many as America’s greatest President, even though he hasn’t yet been sworn in. Along with that there’s been plenty of negative reaction in the media to a press conference George Bush gave last week, headlined all over the place as “Regret’s, I’ve had a few” summary of his Presidency. This of course has been followed with opinion pieces which have positioned the Bush Presidency at the top of the worst in history list — here, here, here, and here.
People should be careful about making bold declarations that the most recent President is history’s worst. Yes, the economy’s in the tank, America’s reputation abroad is a disgrace, the environment has been ignored, civil liberties are under enormous threat, and two unending big wars are a psychological drain. These calamities, all of the making under the Bush era, will most certainly stain his record, as much as the awkward position he was put in from an enormous event that was not of his making, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
So what will come from the successful outcomes of the Bush White House? The fact that he kept the U.S. free of terrorist acts after 9/11? Might the Bush legacy benefit if a terrorist act happens on American soil under Obama’s watch? What about the muted acclaim Bush has received for quietly doing better than any previous President in terms of sending aid to Africa to combat AIDS? What about the other merits to the Bush Presidency that have been drowned out with all the negative, including improved test scores for American students, better race relations, reforms to Medicare, and the removal of Saddam Hussein, the overthrowing of the Taliban, and restraint shown towards an aggressive North Korea, and Iran?
I’ve observed enough Presidencies in my 40 year life to recall the popular sentiment that the outgoing guy is the worst President in history is said of every outgoing President and it’s likely to be pronounced by some when Mr. Obama is finished his term of office. Think back to the past two double term Presidents, Clinton and Reagan, both reviled at the end but quietly rehabilitated with the passage of time and some scholarly reflection on their legacies. History will be the ultimate judge.
The magic of every Presidential honeymoon starts to be chipped away as soon as the oath of office is administered and the new guy starts to make decisions which inevitably divide the public into more distinctive groups, those who support the President and those who don’t. Much is expected of Obama and his failure to live up to expectations may very well herald the beginning of his demise in the days and weeks to come.
As much as I’m uncomfortable with the predictable rantings against Bush from the left as he leaves office, I’m also uneasy about the doubts from the right about Obama living up to expectations as he assumes the Presidency. That will inevitably come later but for the time being we should revell in the history we’re about to witness, all the trappings of ceremony and tradition, a smooth transfer of power, and the passing of a difficult eight years to a new era of hope and reinvigoration.
Here’s some photos of a certain gathering we don’t often see unless it’s at a funeral for a President:
During the meeting between the current, future, and former leaders of the free world, the men who have all shared the same office and powerful responsibilities talked about the duties of the office.
“One message that I have and I think we all share is that we want you to succeed,” said President George Bush to President-elect Barack Obama.
“Whether we’re Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country. And to the extent we can, we look forward to sharing our experiences with you. All of us who have served in this office understand that the office transcends the individual. And we wish you all the very best. And so does the country.”
President-elect Obama thanked President Bush for hosting the meeting and noted the opportunity to rely on the other men in the room in running the country.
“I just want to thank the President for hosting us,” said Obama. “This is an extraordinary gathering.”
“All the gentlemen here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office. And for me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary. And I’m very grateful to all of them.”
The Presidential group had lunch in a room next to the Oval Office where they dined privately with no one else in the room.
“All of us would love to be flies on the wall and listening to that conversation,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said to the Associated Press.
The meeting of all of the current living Presidents of the United States is the first since President Ronald Reagan hosted leaders in the White House in 1981 with Reagan, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and future President George H.W. Bush present at the same time. source.