The well was fine

THE WELL WAS FINE…. I find this very annoying.

Former Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon said the administration was in trouble even before taking office in the aftermath of the 2000 recount in which the Supreme Court effectively ruled that Bush had won Florida.

“The recount poisoned the well from the beginning,” McKinnon said.

“A good number of people in this country didn’t believe Bush was a legitimate President. And you can’t change the tone under those circumstances.”

Nonsense. After the recount debacle, Bush, as president-elect, had ample public support, with a 65% approval rating before he took office. His numbers faltered in the spring and summer of 2001, not because of questions about the legitimacy of his presidency, but because of the way Bush governed, which included driving Jim Jeffords from the Republican Party altogether.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Bush’s approval ratings soared to unseen heights, with most of the country not only rallying around their national leader, but hoping, desperately, that the president was a competent, capable man in a time of crisis. When Bush proved otherwise, Americans gave up on him.

The notion of blaming the recount is a cop-out. Bush was given a chance — to “change the tone,” to govern, to lead — and he blew it. This had nothing to do with the ridiculous circumstances that led Bush into office.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.