The Bush Restoration Project
Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is on a mission to rehabilitate the former president's reputation.
Even so, it will be a long road. The Bush restoration, if it comes, may not occur in Bush's lifetime—or Shapiro's. There was zero net job creation in the first decade of the 2000s, for the first time in nearly a century. The economy is still fragile, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are far from over. "No recent president has had the problems Bush has had," says Jean Edward Smith, who has written books on Ulysses S. Grant, George H. W. Bush, and FDR. "They haven't had so much to explain away."
Their methods vary, but the foremost goal and truest vocation of every ex-president is to defend his presidency. Bush is no different. Along with former President Clinton, he led the U.S. response to the earthquake in Haiti. He appeared at a "Conference on Cyber Dissidents" this week hosted by his presidential center. And he is thickening his wallet giving speeches to friendly audiences. Bush may have a harder time than any president since Carter in getting back in the good graces of the public. Then again, Carter never had a guy like Jeffrey Scott Shapiro working on his behalf.
Correction, April 22, 2010: This article originally stated that former President Jimmy Carter left office in 1980. He left office in 1981. (Return to the corrected sentence.)
Corrections, April 26, 2010: This article misstated that Shapiro visited Pierce Bush at Pierce's ranch. It was at Pierce's home. (Return to the corrected sentence.) The article also incorrectly stated that Shapiro worked for the Bush administration as a federal prosecutor. He worked as a prosecutor for the District of Columbia government. (Return to the corrected sentence.)
Jordan Michael Smith is a writer in Washington, D.C. He last wrote for Slate in January.
Photograph of George W. Bush by Alex Wong/Getty Images.