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When new won’t work, go for something recycled - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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When new won’t work, go for something recycled

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Posted: Friday, March 12, 2010 12:00 am

Crazy as it may sound, the quickest way for a president of this nation to improve his approval rating in the polls is to become an ex-president.

A little more than a year since leaving the White House, George W. Bush is getting higher polls numbers and is being cast as a nostalgic figure. The momentum started to build when a billboard popped up in Minnesota featuring a cheery picture of Bush smiling and waving, next to the phrase "Miss me yet?"

Well, now T-shirts, hats, coffee mugs and other items featuring the same photo and phrase have become popular merchandise on the Internet.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in an article written by a former reporter at this newspaper, Anna M. Tinsley, explored this Bush resurgence.

Here’s how Tinsley captured the mood:

"Now that Bush isn’t in the news daily, some people may be feeling differently about him. His favorability rating last month was 38 percent, according to a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics survey. Among Texas GOPers, though, his favorability is up to 79 percent, according a poll last month by Public Policy Polling.

"Last week, 13 of the top 100 items sold online by CafePress featured the ‘Miss me yet?’ Bush design. An average of 500 of these items are sold each day. The site now has more than 7,700 ‘Miss me yet?’ designs, compared with 1,320 in February, company spokesman Marc Cowlin said."

Of course, this type of sentimentality has been noted with other presidents.

For instance, even though Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace, some of his presidential achievements, primarily in the foreign policy area, helped restore his image before he died.

Jimmy Carter was a one-term president who left office under a cloud. But he’s continued his public service with such programs as Habitat for Humanity and is a lot more popular than when he was in office.

Probably the most high profile of our living former presidents is Bill Clinton, partly due to the fact that his wife, Hillary, is secretary of state. But he commands expensive appearance fees and seems to be more popular than during his sometimes rocky two terms in the Oval Office.

Let’s face it. Sitting presidents are the most second-guessed people in America, just ahead of Peyton Manning and Tony Romo. And in at least half the country (sometimes more), they can do no right.

So, in our speeded up technological world, electing and discarding presidents probably should be something like speedreading, where we zip through a book at warp speed. Or maybe better, it should be a process akin to trading vehicles.

You know, we’d like to take this candidate for a test drive. Let’s drive him around for six months and see what kind of mileage he gets, how he corners, how he extracts himself from sticky wars and whether we like his sound system and sound bites.

Then, when all the new styles fail to please, we could do what some car freaks do — fall back on vintages models. Got anything along the lines of a restored H.W. Bush on the lot?

Odessa, TX

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