by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, many in the media considered him a dangerous extremist.
Some reporters warned that Reagan courted nuclear war and would tank the economy. He certainly was not like the gentleman Republican and moderate ex-president Gerald Ford.
But by 1989, the media was fond of a new adjective: “Reaganesque.” Reagan in retirement and without power was seen as a senior statesman. …
… During the tenure of Democratic president Barack Obama, George W. Bush in retirement was trashed for eight years. Hurricane Katrina was allegedly his fault alone. So was the 2008 economic meltdown.
Then, a strange — or rather, predictable — metamorphosis followed in 2016.
Eight years after Bush had left office — and had kept professionally quiet during the Obama years — he (like Ford, Reagan, and his father) was wondrously rehabilitated by the media.
The supposedly failed Bush presidency was reinvented by journalists to contrast positively with President Trump’s purportedly disastrous ongoing tenure.
The media now praised the former president as a moderate. Bush — whom they had once dubbed a war criminal, racist, and incompetent — became a bipartisan wise man in retirement on his Texas ranch. Compared with Trump, both Bushes were now said to have ruled compassionately from the center.