The two are definitely in the same league, in absolute terms. Maybe Obama is Nixon to Bush’s LBJ, in that he is continuing and expanding upon his predecessor’s foreign and domestic enormities, deserving special ire for ramping them up, but with the president before still deserving special hatred for having started so many horrible policies.
Of course, it is unfair to compare Obama to Bush just yet, since Bush had eight years of destruction and Obama has only had a little over two. Nevertheless, let’s remember what Bush had done by this point in his presidency, mid-March 2003. Just over two years into his presidency, Bush had:
- Invaded and occupied Afghanistan
- Invaded Iraq
- Rounded up and detained hundreds of aliens right after 9/11
- Established a policy of indefinite detention and torture
- Created a prison camp at Guantanamo
- Signed the Patriot Act, including major assaults on free speech (National Security Letters) and a near total annihilation of the Fourth Amendment
- Created the Transportation Security Administration
- Created the Department of Homeland Security
- Instituted “Project Safe Neighborhoods” and overseen a vast increase in firearms prosecutions by the Justice Department
- Signed No Child Left Behind
- Rammed through Medicare Part D, adding $20 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the largest expansion of the welfare state in about 35 years
- Rammed through Sarbanes-Oxley, the largest expansion of the corporate regulatory state perhaps since the New Deal, which has devastated the economy
- Signed protectionist steel tariffs
- Expanded farm subsidies
- Made “free-speech zones” a commonplace
- Directed the NSA (a branch of the military) to warrantlessly wiretap the American people
- Accelerated the subsidization (directly and indirectly) of home ownership by minorities and others who couldn’t really afford houses, sowing the seeds for a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble, culminating in the crash of ’08
Obama has done a staggering amount of damage in just over two years, but I submit that Bush might still have him beat in terms of destruction unleashed in so short a time. Also, the war in Iraq has long-term consequences in foreign relations that are yet to be seen. Bush could very well be the Woodrow Wilson of the 21st century, having set in motion a series of devastating events humanity will suffer from for a century.
Obama is definitely no sort of relief from the Bush years. But never let it be forgotten how completely terrible his predecessor was, right off the bat.