TIPP CITY, Ohio (Reuters) - If George Washington is still a subject of debate among historians, then it may be a long time before they reach a consensus on George W. Bush’s presidency.
At least that is how Bush viewed it on Thursday in explaining how he is not bothered by the polls and his unpopularity among Americans tired of the Iraq war.
“Everybody wants to be loved,” Bush told a questioner. “But I believe, sir, in my soul, that I have made the right decisions for this country when it comes to prosperity and peace.”
Bush went to Tipp City to drum up support for his war policy. He conducted a lengthy question-and-answer session with local citizens that sometimes bordered on the comical.
The location was Tippecanoe High School, a name that harkens back to William Henry Harrison’s 1840 campaign slogan -- “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” -- when Harrison, a hero of the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe, ran for president with John Tyler as his running mate.
“I’ve been in politics long enough to know that polls just go ‘poof’ at times,” Bush told the largely friendly audience.
As a White House resident for the past six years, Bush, president No. 43, has been reading up on some of his predecessors.
“I read three histories on George Washington last year. The year 2006, I read three histories about our first President. My attitude is, if they’re still writing about one, 43 doesn’t need to worry about it,” he said to laughter.
What about Vietnam and Iraq, one questioner wanted to know.
“There are some similarities of course,” Bush replied. “Death is terrible.”
Later, he went into a long riff about the need for a temporary guest worker program for illegal immigrants, because they are doing jobs Americans will not do.
“If you’ve got a chicken factory, a chicken-plucking factory -- you know what I‘m talking about. You’ve got starving families, and they want to come and work,” he said.
As he usually does, Bush singled out his wife, Laura Bush, for praise.
“Putting up with me requires a lot of patience,” he said.