The Big Hangover is a flopped ’50s film that is better forgotten, but it is the permanent state of Barack Obama, still in his bathrobe and feeling quite queasy, due to a headache called Bush. “Six years in, Barack Obama is still battling a Bush hangover,” says Politico. “The hangover was much, much worse than I think any president’s been left with,” said Howard Dean. “Barack Obama has had to clean up the mess that was left him,” said Barbara Boxer. “The rising chaos in Iraq—and the blame game over who’s responsible—are the latest reminders that halfway through his own second-term he’s still more consumed by dealing with the legacy of President George W. Bush than building his,” said the reporter. “Obama supporters see a president who found himself so deep in so many holes from his very first day in office that cleaning up the aftermath of the previous eight years was going to take at least eight of his own.”
Just eight? It’s a good thing we now have term limits, or it might be taking him twelve years, or even sixteen. Certainly, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt never stopped kvetching—in their eight and twelve years-plus-three-months years respectively—about the burdens left them by Carter and by Hoover that kept them from getting anything done. That kept their approval ratings rock bottom, that tied their hands in the arena of foreign relations, and kept them from getting bills passed. Clearly it’s that millstone called “Bush” that drags Obama down, confined every day to the golf course and fund-raisers, too depressed and almost too sad to go on.
The war in Iraq makes him sadder than ever, especially as it’s unfair. “Big foreign policy messes take a very long time to clean up,” Howard Dean tells us. Barbara Boxer calls it a “cascade of Bush bungles.” Brad Woodhouse, head of an Obama-linked lobby, expressed the “outraged disbelief” in Hangover Central at the slightest suggestion from outside of their circle that the holes weren’t as deep as they thought. But the economic hole, the critics point out, was nowhere as deep as was Roosevelt’s. And the hole in Iraq, deep as it seemed in 2006 for example, had been pretty much filled in by the time that Obama took office—something admitted, oddly enough, by no less than Obama himself. Here is Joe Biden, chatting away on Larry King Live in 2010, calling Iraq “one of the great achievements” of the Obama administration. Here is Obama on December 14, 2011, addressing the troops at Fort Bragg: “This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making. . . . We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq.”
That “sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq” was the Bush Hangover. Imagine the hangover Obama will leave to his heirs.