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May 05, 2010

George W. Bush

If ever there was a group of people who had to wrestle with online reputation management, it is ex-Presidents. No matter what they did during their term in office, there is bound to be some large group of people fiercely critical of their every step. Perhaps no one has faced a harder struggle than George W. Bush – he assumed office just as the popularization of the internet was picking up speed, and immediately incurred the wrath of many of the technorati, who dedicated large amounts of energy towards making searches for his name result in extremely negative material.

His reputation never really improved, and many have said he has a tarnished legacy. A new book due out in November of 2010 aims to undo some of that damage, aiming to shine a more personal light on the 43rd President. The question is, can a book reverse so much negative publicity?

The answer seems to be: maybe. Many presidents who suffered from horrible public opinion numbers – including Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush – have recovered after their term in office ended. Charitable work, bipartisan activities, and yes, book deals, have all helped mitigate years of negative spin.

Bush appears to be taking the ideal tack in managing his own reputation. The book is said to address a number of pivotal decisions he made during his career, and covers not only those which resulted in victory, but also those which were unsuccessful. By taking a humble position, Bush will immediately put his harshest critics at a disadvantage, and by acknowledging where things could have been handled better, he opens readers to be more receptive to his actual triumphs.

Whether or not the book ultimately repairs his reputation, the buzz surrounding its release will likely do wonders for his online reputation. News outlets, blogs, and book sites will all carry extensive reviews which, judging by the building buzz, are likely to be overwhelmingly positive.

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