They like him now: 'frat boy' now missing from the media narrative on George W. Bush

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It has to do with wise civility, perhaps, and some fabulous strategery. Former President George W. Bush, deemed either a “frat boy” or warmonger by an unfriendly press for years, has re-emerged on the public radar, earning a growing number of positive reviews and rising approval ratings on par or even besting President Obama’s numbers.

“George W. Bush returns as a uniter,” declared The Washington Post in the wake of Mr. Bush’s well-received visit to Africa, and a particularly compelling interview with ABC News in the aftermath.

“The expanding legacy of George Bush,” heralded a recent McClatchy editorial.

“The ex-president is a relevant figure in the debate on the political side as much as the policy,” MSNBC acknowledged, referring to Mr. Bush’s newly voiced take on immigration reform.

Following four years of gracious silence after he left office, Mr. Bush has adopted an appealing, straightforward mien that appears authentic. He dismisses any talk of legacy, telling ABC that “history will see to that.” Asked why he doesn’t chat more with Mr. Obama, he replied, “Because he’s busy and I’m retired.”

Well, not quite.

Phase one of the Bush legacy fired up Wednesday at the Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Mr. Bush delivered thoughtful, but carefully measured remarks at a daylong event titled “What Immigrants Contribute.” He was in touch with his inner statesman, urging opposing partisan sides and infighting Republicans to just get on with it.

There’s still baggage out there, though. A Gallup poll released Tuesday finds that 69 percent of Americans still blame Mr. Bush for the flagging U.S. economy while 53 percent blame Mr. Obama.

Addressing that sentiment, perhaps, will be phase two of the “W” legacy.

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