Paul  Kengor

Editor’s note: A longer version of this article first appeared at American Spectator.

February is the month of presidents. It includes Washington’s birthday, Lincoln’s birthday, Ronald Reagan’s birthday, and, of course, Presidents Day. Given that I teach and write about presidents, this time of year always prompts me to strange musings. This year is no exception, as I’m thinking about six particular presidents: Barack Obama, George W. Bush, FDR, Herbert Hoover, Bill Clinton, and Harry Truman. How could I possibly connect these six?

Bear with me—I’ll start and end with Obama.

Barack Obama, and particularly his re-election campaign, has achieved something quite dubious of a sitting president. Namely, he has managed to successfully blame nearly every woe of the last four years on his predecessor. Never mind that every economic indicator under Obama is not only worse than under George W. Bush, but far worse. Obama has presided over a steadily worsening economic disaster, one that is stacking up as one of the most dreadful economic records of any president in history. And yet, as he does, he passes the buck to his predecessor, blaming George W. Bush.

This is unbecoming of an American leader; it’s precisely what our presidents don’t do; they don’t treat each other like this, having much more respect for the job and those who have held it. There is a long-time gentlemen’s understanding, honored by nearly every president, that you don’t blame your predecessor for your problems.

Nonetheless, George W. Bush has become Obama’s go-to scapegoat.