We have quite the reversal of fortune underway.
Former President George W. Bush is looked upon far more kindly now than when he was in office, while President Obama is sliding.
According to the AP, "For the first time since April 2005, Americans view former President George W. Bush more favorably than unfavorably, a new Gallup poll has found. (http://www.gallup.com/poll/163022/former-president-george-bush-image-ratings-improve.aspx)
"According to the survey released Tuesday, 49 percent of Americans now view Bush as favorable, with 46 percent viewing him unfavorably. This, Gallup says, is the first time in more than five years that the president has held a more positive opinion.
"When Bush left office in January 2009, only 40 percent of people polled viewed him favorably, with a majority of 59 percent expressing dislike for him. His lowest rating ever was in April 2008 during campaign season, when he had a favorable rating of 32 percent. This was also at a time when the economy was struggling and gas prices were spiking."
Meanwhile, the latest Gallup poll shows President Obama with a 47% approval, with 44% disapproval. (http://www.gallup.com/poll/113980/Gallup-Daily-Obama-Job-Approval.aspx) Job approval and favorability are different measures, but still.
How did we get here?
Former presidents usually enjoy a rebound once they leave office, and Bush has experienced that without actively trying. He had one major book, his annual rides with the Wounded Warriors, a few speeches, and that's about it. So, even in staying relatively quiet, he's bounced back.
There are many reasons for this and the reasons vary based on the president. Former presidents usually get a halo once they leave, when they are no longer being pounded every day by the opposition and the press. In Bush's case, I think he's benefiting from the realization that the presidency---especially in this threat context---is one tough job, and perhaps more and more people now realize that they should have given him more slack, that he was unfairly maligned by the press and the Left, and that he was a good man who did his very best, even with the mistakes. The other part of the equation is that Obama has retained most of Bush's counterterrorism policies (Guantanamo, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, data mining through the NSA, etc.), which furthers the realization that Bush was ahead of his time---and that he was right.
Meanwhile, Obama is mired in scandals of his own making, his own ideology, and his own grand project to "fundamentally transform" the nation. As a result, whatever the trust folks still had in him is eroding. Hence, his numbers are headed south, while Bush's head up.
Karma is a tough taskmaster, huh, Mr. President?