As George W. Bush awaits the dedication of his presidential library on Thursday, a new poll shows that his approval rating is better than it was when he left the White House more than four years ago.
The Washington Post/ABC News survey
of 1,000 adults found that 47 percent of respondents approve of the job he did as president, while 50 percent disapprove.
That's quite an improvement from the end of Bush’s second term in 2009, when his approval rating was 33 percent positive and 66 percent negative. Among registered voters, his 47 percent approval rating today is the same as President Barack Obama’s, according to the poll.
The biggest issues weighing on Bush’s legacy are his performance on the Iraq war and the economy, the poll found, although his approval rating on the latter nearly doubled between December 2008 and today, from 24 percent to 43 percent, with 53 percent disapproving.
As for Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, 57 percent now say they disapprove, compared to 65 percent in the spring of 2008.
According to the Post, Bush said he will let history judge him and directed the designers of his library to present the facts so that visitors can draw their own conclusions about his presidency.
Supporters contend the unveiling of the library on Thursday is an opportunity to draw attention to other aspects of 43rd president's record, including his advocacy for immigration reform, a position that many in the Republican leadership are now supporting as well.
“Obviously, it’s a big moment for him,” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the Post, noting: “It’s a chance for him to explain that his political philosophy encompasses much more than the decisions he had to take after 9/11.”
“We forget this sometimes,” added Blair. “This is a much more rounded person with many more dimensions to him than the caricature often portrays.”
Guest at the library opening on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas will reportedly include Obama and all living former presidents, as well as many dignitaries and former Bush administration officials.
Karen Hughes, who was an adviser to Bush, told the Post he considers the day “a joyful opportunity to give thanks” to the other presidents for being there, to the people who served in his administration, and to those who built the library.
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