After 12 years, the bad history still hurts. From today's Cillizza column:
In 2000, Bush won 271 electoral votes — one more than he needed to claim the presidency. In eking out that victory, Bush not only carried the South and Plains states with a near sweep but also claimed wins in swing states such as Nevada, Colorado, Missouri and the major electoral-vote prizes of Ohio and Florida.
Bush of course did not win 271 electoral votes, any more than he won the popular vote. His actual electoral count was 246, well below the victorious threshold of 270--and by some unexpired, journalistic statute of limitations, every political column that refers to Bush's 2000 "election" should come with an explanatory, as well as apologetic, asterisk.
As a student of history, I have often wondered how other students of history could rank George W. Bush merely among the five or 10 worst U.S. presidents. In infamy, James Buchanan usually outdoes W. in these ranking polls, as do other antebellum incompetents such as Franklin Pierce, Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore. Yet each of them faced a truly irrepressible conflict; Lincoln could do no better in averting it. Andrew Johnson? A racist drunk, little more, whom Congress crushed in rather short order. Warren Harding? Hell, the best looking president we've ever had, which was about all we wanted in 1920. And Rutherford B. Hayes, our other appointed president, was a veritable Pericles compared to George W. Bush.
Only W. single-handedly grasped a reasonably well-ordered nation by the throat and expended thousands of its lives needlessly, drained its public treasury, and choked all honor from it.
But given that he was unelected, all that deserves at least an asterisk, does it not?