The complex math of grading presidents

George W. Bush was not a very popular president. His approval ratings, some of the lowest in history, may have been a reflection of his inability to connect with the American people. On the other hand, dare I say it, maybe it was the American peoples’ inability to understand Bush that made him such a “bad president” in their minds.

The direct effect of Americans not liking Bush was that they blamed every one of the country’s misfortunes on him. The war in Iraq, the stock market crashing, Hurricane Katrina and somehow even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict became Bush’s fault, and that’s just to name the big stories. It became somewhat of a joke. My stubbing my toe this morning was also Bush’s fault – I jumped out of bed too fast, angry and not thinking clearly since he was such a bad president. Certainly as rational people we must find that blaming all problems on one person is a bit absurd. Problems can rarely be explained by one cause, or person for that matter. It begs the question, how do we judge presidents?

As Barack Obama enters office with a full plate of expectations and hopes, Americans would do well to remember patience. President Obama does not have a magic wand that can instantly make the world’s troubles disappear. The policies and agendas he has outlined in his campaign and to this point, have clear goals in mind, but nothing changes overnight. More importantly, and to the tune of what Obama has emphasized, change requires the efforts of many.

As we watch the next four years unfold, we would do well to avoid ignorance to the best of our abilities. Ignorance involves assessments based off a lack of knowledge or information. We all know that the economy is in bad condition, but how many of us know why or even how? Many Americans blame the poor economy on Bush, though few can explain why.

What’s interesting is that in a free-market capitalist economy, things consistently occur in cycles and the actions of today do not always have immediate effect. To that extent, I have heard many convincing arguments that the current economic downturn is due largely to the policies and presidential tenure of Bill Clinton, a strong advocate of the individual spending that has led to persons living beyond their means. What are we to believe? The more important question should be, are we concluding things based off inclinations or knowledge?

The credit crisis, people defaulting on mortgages and the stock market stumbling can not all be attributed to the actions or inactions of one person.

Whoever you may want to blame, think first before doing so. If unemployment and the economy do not significantly improve in the next 12 months, and all hopes do not become reality, do not automatically accuse President Obama.

Inquiring Minds is the opinion of the writer and not altogether representative of the editorial staff’s views.

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