In recent weeks, former White House adviser Karl Rove has been strongly advising President Obama to not blame President Bush for the current economic troubles, writing in his Wall Street Journal column, “it won’t work.” “For Mr. Obama and his party, all the escape hatches are shutting at the same time. Blaming Bush and harping on the GOP’s driving abilities is not a good strategy,” Rove continued. While the sincerity of any piece of counsel Rove offers to his political rivals should be suspect, especially when that prescription would help rehabilitate his own image, Rove’s latest bit of unsolicited advice also appears to be wrong. According to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, over two-thirds of Americans still blame Bush for the economy’s woes:
The 71% saying Bush should get blamed was a modest decline from the 80% who felt that way about a year ago, in July 2009. [...]
In the July 2009 poll, a third, 32%, said [Obama] should shoulder a great deal or moderate amount of the blame. That percentage has risen — no surprise, given that he’s been in office for 20 months. Now almost half, 48%, do. But 51% say he’s dealing with problems he inherited, not created, saying he deserves not much or none of the responsibility for economic problems that include high unemployment and a faltering housing market.
There was, predictably, a yawning partisan divide on the question. Republicans by 4-1, 44%-10%, were more likely to give Obama a great deal of the blame than Bush. Democrats by more than 20-1 targeted Bush: They said the former president bore a great deal of the blame; just 3% said that of the current one.
Indeed, as much as Bush advisers try to resurrect the legacy of their former boss, other polls have shown Americans really don’t miss Bush, while a recent survey of 238 presidential scholars rated Bush as the worst president of the modern era and among the bottom five of all time.