George W. Bush has had, shall we say, an uneventful ex-presidency. Bill Clinton flies all over the world to raise money for his foundation and Jimmy Carter oversees elections in developing countries, but Bush is content with a slower pace. Important events shake the world, but today The Decider decides to go for a bike ride, have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, and maybe paint a picture of a dog. If there's time after, he takes a good afternoon nap.
This week, the George W. Bush presidential library will open on the campus of Southern Methodist University. He may have left office with shockingly low approval ratings, but Bush insists that the jury is still out on his presidency. "There's no need to defend myself," he told USA Today. "I did what I did and ultimately history will judge." Bush has been delivering that same line about history being the judge since before he left the White House. It's a way of saying, Sure, I may look like a screw-up to you. But just you wait.
In April 2003, the Prospect put Bush on our cover under the headline, "The Most Dangerous President Ever." Just two years into his presidency, some thought the judgment premature. Six years later, it was no longer a controversial thing to say.
Today, you will not be surprised to learn, Bush has no regrets. If you visit his library, you will go to the "Decision Points Theater," an interactive exhibit where you can match wits with Dubya, seeing if you'd come to different decisions at key moments of his presidency than he did. Whatever you decide, we all had to live with Bush's actual decisions. History began judging him some time ago, and the judgment hasn't been kind.
SO THEY SAY
"Last week, opponents of comprehensive immigration reform began to exploit the Boston Marathon bombing. I urge restraint in that regard. Refugees and asylum seekers have enriched the fabric of this country from our founding. In Vermont, we welcome as neighbors Bhutanese, Burmese, Somalis, just as other states have welcomed immigrants to America for refuge and opportunity, whether it’s the Hmong in Minnesota, Vietnamese-Americans in California, Virginia and Texas, Cuban-Americans in Florida and New Jersey, or Iraqis in Utah. Our history is full of these stories of salvation."
—Senator Patrick Leahy, at the immigration-reform hearings today
DAILY MEME: HAPPY EARTH DAY!
- It's April 22, which means that communities the world over are carving out time to think about the environment, how we're hurting it, and what we can do to improve it.
- Or is it? One American Spectator contributor has other theories. "Earth Day and Lenin’s Day. Related? I, for one, would be amazed if communists had not been involved in Earth Day from the outset."
- Today is also the third anniversary of the BP oil spill, an unfortunate but extremely effective reminder of the ways in which we are careless with the environment. "It's always a disaster that prompts people into paying attention."
- Even today, not all the oil is cleaned up.
- The shadow of West, Texas, also hangs over Earth Day, with the explosion that ripped the town's heart also dismantling its landscape...
- ... which made Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell's way of celebrating Earth Day—with the opening of a fertilizer-manufacturing plant—quite bad timing.
- Ed Kilgore notes that being pro-environment has got all tangled up in ideology as of late, which has been a detriment to pushing for plenty of issues.
- While Nicholas Lemann notes that the environmental movement, not just the political environment, has changed quite a bit since the first Earth Day in 1970.
- Earth Day is also about all the days—even Christmas!
- And Earth Day is about all the days especially for ... NASCAR?
WHAT WE'RE WRITING
- Pete Williams stands nearly alone as a journalist who managed to report from Boston and not make an ass of himself. Paul Waldman asks us to remember that what he did was more par for the course than heroic
- The international community is threatening to halt economic aid to the Palestinian Authority and the PA prime minister has formally resigned. Gershom Gorenbergexplains why neither event is likely to matter in the near term.
WHAT WE'RE READING
- The New York Times gives 1,000 words to the iconic photograph of the Boston Marathon finish line.
- The surviving alleged Boston bomber has been charged with the use of a WMD and the rumor mill thinks he'll be facing the death penalty.
- Wait. WMD? As Salon explains, the term is basically meaningless.
- Lindsey Graham advanced his own troubling definitions, suggesting that the younger Tsarnaev should be called an enemy combatant and detained indefinitely.
- With the fertilizer explosion as a backdrop, the Koch brothers and industry giants have bought together a group of 11 congressmen to further defang the EPA and other regulators.
POLL OF THE DAY
Now for something completely different, a recent Gallup poll has found that Americans are strongly opposed to a gas tax hike, even if the funds would go towards infrastructure and mass transit. Twenty-nine percent of those polled supported the idea while 66 percent opposed. Democrats and Westerners had slightly higher levels of support, 40 and 37 percent, respectively.