Trump Versus Bush: is One Really Worse Than the Other?

Comparing the legacies of two of the worst Presidents in American history.

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Photo via The Bush Center on Instagram

The Trump presidency has had weird effect on the American public, in a variety of ways. Perhaps one of the most prominent, widespread examples of this would be the neoliberal sense of nostalgia for past Presidential administrations, and not just Obama. The days of Trump have prompted a number of people, particularly in the pundit class, to praise the days of Bush, and — as ridiculous as it may seem — lament about the fact that at least there was a sense of “civility” and decorum.

While I have to believe for the sake of my own sanity that the vast majority of people aren’t wishing back the days of George W. Bush, I have to admit it is interesting to consider between the two of them, which of these two Presidents has a created a worse legacy for themselves. In all honesty however, whenever this thought crosses my mind I grow more convinced that at least at this point, it might be almost impossible to fairly compare.

The truth is, both Trump and Bush have been terrible in their own right.

While George Bush’s tone might be a little more pleasant, we cannot let the horrors of Trump allow us to forget what the Bush administration did, and the effects of his leadership on the world that we are still dealing with today.

We are quickly approaching twenty years since George Bush and his leadership team lied their way in to a war in Iraq that we still have not been able to get out of, creating massive chaos and destruction that destabilized an entire region for decades to come. And of course, how could we forget the worse economic global recession we’ve seen since the Great Depression happened as well.

Meanwhile, Trump has been working in overdrive to create a legacy of terror and devastation on his own unique front. His southern border and immigration policies have been arguably violent, genuinely evil attacks on some of the most vulnerable people, causing trauma the likes of which I can’t even imagine. While of course that means nothing to all the racists in his voter demographic, his trade war with China and the tariffs he’s imposed on their products seems to be genuinely turning the tide against his favor with at least a small portion of his base.

While George Bush and his administration are undeniably war criminals, responsible for irreparable damage and hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives lost, one could also argue that Trump on the other hand is a wild card in the worst sense of the word when it comes to his foreign policy. Only months ago, we were literally ten minutes away from war with one of the greatest military powers in the Middle East, and there is still a very real possibility that could happen again. If an economic recession comes before the end of his first term, (which it very well could) I don’t think anyone would be shocked to see Trump steer once again into war with Iran in a desperate attempt to reestablish a strong base of support.

All that being said. as loathsome as we might find Donald Trump, George Bush isn’t suddenly a good guy just because he gets along with Michelle Obama. We must be mindful of what both of these men have been responsible for, and not allow the horrors of today to prevent us from remembering the very recent past. George Bush might have the appearance of civility and niceness, but that doesn’t erase the core of every terrible thing he was responsible for doing. There’s no shortage of reasons why someone might find one of these two men worse than the other, but we have to remember we can acknowledge that without minimizing the destructiveness of the other.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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