Obama's Bush hangover

“The hangover was much, much worse than I think any president’s been left with, with the exception of Andrew Johnson,” said Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, though he notes that in that case, he doesn’t blame Abraham Lincoln. “It underlines what unbelievable damage they did in just a short eight years.”

“Barack Obama has had to clean up the mess that was left him,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), ticking off the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, cutting the deficit and recovering from the recession. “On every front, he’s really moved forward for this nation.”

That kind of thinking, according to Bush’s first White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, is, in a word, “nonsense.”

“Every president gets the benefit and the burdens of all the presidents that came before them, including the most recent,” Fleischer said. “The only question is did they make things better or did they make things worse? And on almost every measure, President Barack Obama made them worse.”

“For the entire first term, Obama and his people blamed Bush for everything — which is another way of saying they felt Bush and the Bush years were the inescapable reference point for everything they were themselves doing,” said Elliott Abrams, a former top Bush National Security Council staffer. “Now in the second term, they still cannot get free of this shadow.”