by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ali Frick, Ryan Powers, and Igor Volsky
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It has now been three months since President Bush and his family boarded their plane back to Texas and handed the reins of power over to President Obama. Yet Bush administration officials are pushing to make sure that the American public remembers them -- or rather, remembers what they want them to remember. While Bush has been focusing on fundraising for his presidential library and hitting the lecture circuit, his top aides have been aggressively taking to the airwaves to criticize Obama. With Obama's approval rating still above 60 percent, these aides are pulling out all the stops to shape Bush's legacy and pass blame on to his successor. However, there's little proof that these attacks are working. In a recent C-SPAN poll of presidential historians, Bush made a list of the top 10 worst presidents in U.S. history. Even abroad, officials are attempting to hold the Bush administration accountable. Last month, a Spanish court "agreed to consider opening a criminal case against six former Bush administration officials...over allegations they gave legal cover for torture at Guantanamo Bay."
THE DECIDER: Even while still in office, Bush was looking forward to making a "ridiculous" amount of money on the lecture circuit. According to his bio on the Washington Speakers Bureau website, the point of his speaking tour is to promote his policies that were "controversial at times" but "kept the country safe for more than seven years." Bush is now lecturing approximately once a week. His first appearance was in Canada, where activists and human rights lawyers tried to bar his entry into the country. Bush has also been working to raise $300 million for his presidential library, although "the prospect" of being identified "in perpetuity" with Bush's agenda "freezes the blood" of some of Southern Methodist University's leading academics. Even though he is writing a book on his time in office, Bush is not sitting around and reflecting on his missteps and regrets. "He's secure in the place he's in. He's confident in the decisions he made. There's none of that 'Shoulda, woulda, coulda,'" said former aide Dan Bartlett. One event that Bush is trying to wipe from the American public's minds is the Iraq war. His advisers have said that the war is "unlikely" to be one of the topics of focus at the presidential library; in fact, Bush's official 483-word bio on the library website doesn't have a single mention of Iraq. A newly released five-minute promo video for the library mentions the word "Iraq" just once, although it devotes a full 35 seconds to clips showing extensive footage of 9/11 and Bush's subsequent reaction.
THE LOYAL BUSHIES: Finding work has been tough for many former loyal Bushies. A Washington job recruiter estimated that only "25% to 30% of ex-Bush officials seeking full-time jobs have succeeded," a rate that is "much, much worse" than when Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton left office. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been one of the most high-profile job seekers; he has blamed his troubles on the "rough economy" rather than his incompetence while in the Bush administration. Others have been lucky enough to stay in the public light by appearing on cable news. Fox News contributor Karl Rove continues to use his platform to attack the Obama administration -- even though Bush has said that Obama deserves his "silence." Last week, for example, Rove called Vice President Biden a "blowhard" and a "liar." He also went after Obama for praising the "Turkish secular movement" while abroad, even though Bush did the same thing while in office. Former chief of staff Andrew Card's objections have been less substantive, focusing on the fact that unlike Bush, Obama does not require his staff to wear a jacket at all times in the Oval Office. In January, Card said that the new dress code showed a lack of "respect" for the office and created a "kind of locker room experience." Most recently, the President's brother, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, has made headlines for telling Obama to leave his brother alone. "If I had one humble criticism of President Obama, it would be to stop this notion of somehow framing everything in the context of, 'Everything was bad before I got here,'" Jeb Bush told Fox News's Sean Hannity last week, not noting that his brother also repeatedly attacked Clinton. In addition to attacking Obama, these Bushies have banded together to create a Bush-Cheney Alumni Association, committed to "help build a lasting legacy for President George W. Bush and the Bush-Cheney Administration."
SAME OLD DICK: The former vice president has been one of Obama's loudest and most controversial critics. On March 15, Cheney received widespread attention -- and criticism -- for saying that Obama is "making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack." Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod responded that although Bush has "behaved like a statesman...I just don't think the memo got passed down to the vice president." Both Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder similarly came out and condemned Cheney's comments. Cheney is also up to his old secrecy tricks, refusing to transfer his records and gifts to Bush's presidential library. Next week, top administration officials will be gathering in Dallas for a reunion with the ex-president. One person who won't be there? Cheney, who is still reportedly at odds with Bush over his decision not to pardon Scooter Libby.