Former president George W. Bush’s popularity is rising, with a new poll showing 49 percent of Americans view him favorably and 46 percent unfavorably.
That puts him in positive territory for the first time since 2005.
W has chosen to remain largely out of the public eye since leaving the White House in 2009 with 40 percent favorable and 59 percent unfavorable ratings.
His job approval rating hit an April 2008 low of 32 percent.
At the time the economy was in recession, gas prices neared record highs, and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama jostled for the Democratic nomination.
The recovery in Bush’s image is not unexpected, given that he no longer has to do the job, and Americans generally view former presidents positively.
Favorable ratings for Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all exceeded 60 percent when Gallup last measured them.
Yet “Bush left office with decidedly negative favorability ratings as well as approval ratings, so the recovery in his image is notable,” Gallup writes.
The dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in April thrust him back in the spotlight and sparked a flurry of commentary about his legacy.
Not all of it was negative, either.
Supporters, such as conservative writer Charles Krauthammer, suggested a parallel to Harry Truman, saying views will only improve with time.
Bush, Krauthammer opined, “did not just keep us safe. He created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe.”
Others, like The Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson, countered, “In retrospect, George W. Bush’s legacy doesn’t look as bad as when he left office. It looks worse.”
Obama, meanwhile, is currently mired in scandals and has dipped to 47 percent job approval, having peaked at 54 following the 2012 election.
His low point was 42 percent in October 2011.