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After Hoover left office, New Dealers used the myth of his supposed adherence to laissez-faire as a justification for discrediting free market policies. Today, we are seeing the creation of a similar myth about Bush. The truth, however, is almost the exact opposite of the myth.
Most of the Democratic candidates for president in 2004 and 2008 voted for the Patriot Act - and then campaigned against it. They voted for the resolution authorizing U.S. military force in Iraq - then bolted from the war itself. Likewise with No Child Left Behind. Somehow Bush was the guy who looked bad as he withstood the heat, while his caving critics preened.
More than any other president in American history, President Bush was the subject of media scorn and derision for most of his term. The mainstream press exposed his secret programs, gave voice to his most shrill critics, amplified questions about his motives, and even publicized forged documents to try and prevent his reelection. Here, Bush was willing to push back from time to time. But he never sustained any of those efforts long enough or loudly enough to overcome the sheer volume of false, misleading, and uncharitable material published against him. But he attended all their dinners, and made the appropriately self-deprecating jokes. Because, ultimately, it did not matter to him what they wrote about him. What mattered was his duty.
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