Presidents Blame the Previous President

Blaming your predecessor? It's as American as apple pie. 🇺🇸👉

Presidential Blame Game

Throwing shade at the previous administration is one of America’s greatest presidential traditions. Blaming predecessors for everything but the weather is a age-old tradition in the White House. With global warming, presidents now can even blame their predecessors for the weather just as much as trade or unemployment numbers.

Clinton blamed the first President George Bush for a recession and budget deficits. Ronald Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter for making a mess of Iran. Carter blamed Gerald Ford for unemployment and inflation. Presidents have blamed predecessors all the way back to George Washington who, with no predecessor to blame, kicked the dog.

Not that voters don’t give Mr. Trump a large share of the blame when asked who is responsible for “the partisanship that goes on in Washington.” In the June NBC/WSJ poll, 43% of respondents give the Trump administration “almost all” or “a major part” of the blame. When you consider that another 23% gave Team Trump “at least half” the blame, it doesn’t seem to leave all that much room for other politicians. (The polling team doesn’t appear to have asked voters whether they blame themselves.)

In any case, this survey respondents seem to hold Trump responsible for much of Washington’s chaos. But as with so many other issues related to this administration, it’s helpful to evaluate him in comparison to other Presidents. On that grade, the Journal and NBC note that at the start of the Obama presidency, a full 56% of survey participants blamed the administration of President George W. Bush for “almost all” or “a major part” of Beltway partisanship. And another 25% gave Team Bush “at least half” the blame. If Trump serves two terms, perhaps someday voters will eventually blame him just as much as they blamed the last Republican President. But already there are interesting similarities.