Aides say privately that Bush long ago made peace with his low approval ratings, which have persisted despite significant improvements in Iraq, the original source of his polling woes. Some current and former aides argue that Bush's unpopularity has made it easier for him to push ahead with difficult decisions, such as a series of dramatic interventions into the financial markets that have angered conservatives over the past two months.To a certain extent, Presidents have to be comfortable with who they are and what they believe. But I think it is the rare man who can maintain good cheer in public and semi-public despite the constant drumbeat of negative. It is difficult to imagine Bill Clinton like that.
"You're more liberated to act when you've internalized those low approval ratings," said Pete Wehner, a former top Bush adviser. "This is a White House and a president that are in some ways galvanized by a crisis."
There is little outward sign of irritation from Bush, who has maintained a sense of good cheer in many of his less-formal public appearances this year. During a celebration honoring Theodore Roosevelt's 150th birthday last week, Bush joked: "People ask me, 'Do you ever see any of the ghosts of your predecessors here in the White House?' I said, 'No, I quit drinking.' "
That enduring, frat-boy enthusiasm is exactly the sort of thing that riles his detractors, but supporters say Bush's optimism has been central to his political survival. "When you're inside, and the president is so optimistic, you're not paying as much attention to the noise outside," said Candida "Candi" Wolff, a former White House legislative affairs director. "It keeps everybody focused."
Short term and immediate history will judge George W. Bush harshly, mostly because all we see are the immediate, the now. But I think that in 20, 30 or 50 years will be look back and see a President who did the right things and believed they were the right things at a time when everyone else was saying he was wrong.