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A Bush Legacy Bounce?

Will former President Bush's poll numbers ever bounce back? Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

When George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, took off from the Capitol in a Marine helicopter and soared over the site where President Barack Obama had been sworn in moments before, thousands of people joyously waved goodbye to a presidency that many consider the worst in modern history.

Of the scene, New Yorker editor David Remnick wrote:

"Marine One climbed and climbed--slowly, though like an old man getting up in the morning, and then, having reached sufficient altitude, the chopper flattened out and the former President, unsuccessful and unadored, sped off to Andrews Air Force Base and then connected on to Dallas, never to be quite forgotten."

Now that Bush is officially a part of history, the question of his legacy will be debated in earnest. Will Bush benefit -- as have most modern presidents -- from the dim light of history under which voters tend to forget the sharp edges of their former leaders and remember only the softer side? Or will he be excepted from this warming trend of public opinion due to events like the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina that could haunt his legacy-building for years to come?

"I think some passage of time will allow people to consider President Bush's efforts with less political emotion and more focus on what the results of his policies have been," said Terry Nelson, who served as national political director during the former president's 2004 reelection campaign. "As time passes, the views on his administration will also be less partisan. This happens with every president, and will happen with this one as well."

While that may well be true, a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll suggests Bush has a VERY high hill to climb.

Just one in three voters approved of how Bush had handled his job while 66 percent disapproved -- including a whopping 51 percent who "strongly" disapproved of how Bush did his job.

Bush's 33 percent job approval rating was slightly higher than the 29 percent he averaged during the final year of his term in the Post/ABC but far below the 51 percent approval rating he averaged during his entire presidency -- a number that soared in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001 but remained mired in lows 30s for much of the final years of his Administration.

This compares unfavorably to Post polling for past presidents on their way out the door. Bill Clinton had a 65 percent approval rating at the end of his term and averaged 57 percent for his eight years. George H.W. Bush left office (involuntarily) with a 56 percent approval rating and a career average of 63 percent. Ronald Reagan stood at 64 percent in the final Post poll and averaged 57 percent for his eight years in office. (A BIG thank you to Post polling director -- and all-around good guy -- Jon Cohen for these numbers.)

The early read-about regarding Bush's legacy also casts doubt on his ability to bounce back from his current job ratings. Asked how history would remember Bush's presidency, just 16 percent said either "outstanding" (4 percent) or "above average" (11 percent) while 58 percent said the Bush Administration would be remembered as "below average" (22 percent) or "poor" (36 percent). Twenty-six percent said he would be remembered as an "average" president.

Again, those legacy numbers lag well behind recent past presidents. Forty-seven percent of those polled in early January 2001 said that Bill Clinton would be remembered as an "outstanding" (15 percent) or "above average" (32 percent); roughly one in three (36 percent) said former President George H.W. Bush would be remembered as a "outstanding" (six percent) or "above average" (30 percent) president.

One possible benefit for Bush is that it's hard to imagine his numbers will sink much lower than where they stand today. And, judging from the past history, Bush is almost certain to see a rise in his numbers as his presidency moves further and further into the rear view mirror of voters.

Much will hinge on how Americans ultimately judge Bush's reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent war in Iraq. The more favorably the war is seen in the long view of history, the better Bush's numbers (and legacy) will look. If in the final judgment the war is seen as a failure, it's hard to imagine Bush's numbers perking up in any significant way.

Fred Davis, a Republican media consultant who oversaw ad strategy for John McCain's presidential campaign, said he believed the former scenario would play out.

"Eventually Americans always only remember the good," said Davis. "He'll eventually be fine. He kept America safe, he set his vision and never wavered."

Jim Innocenzi, a partner in the Republican media firm Sandler-Innocenzi, was far less certain that Bush's legacy would benefit as time passes.

"Yes, America hasn't been attacked since 9/11 and we owe him a debt of gratitude for that," Innocenzi said of the former president. "But the fact remains, the terrible troika of the economy, Iraq and Katrina will be this man's lasting legacy for years to come."

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 21, 2009; 2:41 PM ET
Categories:  White House  
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I think history will judge President Bush well. I believe alot of policies that were put into play by President Bush will be built upon futhur and will play well for him. What policies do I mean? After we were attacked, President Bush established the Dept. of Homeland Security. He pushed for and signed into law the US Patriot Act. This allows the CIA & FBI to work together to effeciently transfer information. This is a model that is now being bashed. If it is abolished and we lose American lives b/c the info. sharing wasn't available, it will likely be restored and appreciated. This is an act that has saved countless lives and Homeland Security Dept. has simply made America safer, beginning with airports and protecting major sites across America. There have been no successful terrorist attacks in America since 09/11/01. The No Child Left Behind Act has transformed the education dept. with more accountability on teachers so teachers will no longer teach and not really do their jobs for an early retirement. The gov't. now demands higher results that will be good for our future. The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan needs badly to be revised, but has set a design for the future of medicare. Iraq, I believe, will be the focal point of President Bush's legacy. I believe that Iraq will be a point of democracy & friendship in the heart of the Middle East for freedom & America. This could fundamentally give the rest of the world a democratic partner in the Middle East to help create a peaceful world for the rest of time. I believe history will judge President Bush's legacy will be highly favorable and he will forever be remembered as the President who created a gateway of dialouge with the Middle East.

Posted by: reason5 | January 22, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

The cleaning of the house has started

Posted by: LAThinker | January 22, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

How is it that the right does not seem to hold Bush responsible for 9/11? It happened under his watch, he was warned an attack was imminent and yet, he went on vacation and he and his crew choose to ignore the warning.

The fact that no other attacks happened during his term(s) only follows the pattern already set by the terrorists - almost 10 years between the first WTC attack and 9/11 - could it be they just haven't planned another just yet?

The question we need to ask ourselves is what is in place to prevent further attacks? If you are saying GITMO the you would be completely wrong - places like GITMO only makes more terrorists and so far I've not heard anything substaintial that assures me any information obtained from GITMO "saved America". How secure is our border? How about our ports? We still have a long way to go before our airline screening process catches up with other countries - it seems to me these countries have decreased attacks by doing these sensible things instead of trying to be cowboys and getting revenge. Seems to me the best revenge is to foil more and more attacks instead of wasting money and lives with this "war on terror" crap. Even wars must be fought using common sense!

Posted by: Kathy5 | January 22, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I'd say that yes, George W. Bush's "legacy" will eventually improve, but it'll largely be as an effect of politics. As the length of time since Bush's presidency increases, the people who dislike him will find new people to dislike. As soon as Democrats find a new Public Enemy No. 1 -- and they will -- Bush will start garnering less and less hatred. Why continue to hold a grudge against a political figure of the past when there's a new political figure in the present to demonize?

Granted, Bush is never going to be seen by most as one of our better presidents. And there's still going to be backlash against him years after he's gone -- just look at the way some Republicans continue to blame Bill Clinton for everything. But no one can remain Public Enemy No. 1 forever.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | January 22, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Bush has much improved in my eyes. Reflecting on his years in office, I now regard him with considerably higher stature than I did just weeks or months ago. Where before I considered him a traitor who did little more than enable the explosive growth of hatred and evil at home and abroad, I now look back and view him simply as:

Worst. President. Ever.

Posted by: hiberniantears | January 22, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that the headlines in the national print media 4 years ago concerned the lavish and extrordinalry amount of money that George Bush spent on his innaguration. $49M when our country was in economic uncertainity. The Obama headlines on the eve of spending $170M was that the country needed a good party. Someone tell me that what is wrong with that picture. He announced that he would freeze the pay of his top 100 employees because America was in an economic recession, and we all need to tighten our belts, well except for the $170M on a party. Look I dont know what GW's legacy will be any more than anyone else, I do know that I have a friend that lost his brother in 911, and he certainly is not complaining about how terrorist and murderers are being treated. I would lay odds that those who are critical would have a different opinion if they had lost a son, daughter, husban or close relative on 9/11. Those are the only opinions I would be interested in hearing from. Lastly, I find myself in need of apologizing for the incredibly poor manners of those that chanted as Bush took off from Washington. It was a black mark on an otherwise exceptional day. Like him or hate him, it matters not, however there should be a level of respect for the office he held.

Posted by: dwhite1 | January 22, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

If there is any truth and justice in this country (world), then let the historians remember Dubya's centerpiece programs of massive and unlimited corporate welfare and "No Billionaire Left Behind." Mr. Flight Suit and the rest of the Bush Reich deserve nothing more but perpetual disdain and scorn for destroying what was once a perfectly good country (the USA!). Let him "bounce" all the way back to Texas and slither back under the rock he came from......and stay there.

Posted by: Bushwhacked1 | January 22, 2009 5:39 AM | Report abuse




As I have written about in this space, it goes much, much further that just surveillance. An "American Gestapo" has ruined untold thousands of lives, contributed to the decimation of the economy, and has TORTURED American citizens with radiation weaponry and devices that the government now confirms are being placed in the hands of local law enforcement nationwide.

Keith, if you are reading this, please read the story linked below, updated last week but originally reported last July on my blog site.

Give me a call. I tried to tell you that day at 30 ROCK that you were a fellow victim. You wouldn't -- or couldn't? -- listen that day. Now read this:

OR (if link is corrupted):

And Chris: Welcome to my world. You've been a "target" too. Who do you think may have been calling you "Chrissie" in all those rude posts?

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 22, 2009 3:15 AM | Report abuse

Like Truman, he will have to wait until most of the folks alive when he was president are dead.

Posted by: KC11 | January 22, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

One good thing about Bush:

He finally put to rest the myth of White Supremacy.

Posted by: HughBriss | January 22, 2009 1:23 AM | Report abuse

“Just one in three voters approved of how Bush had handled his job while 66 percent disapproved -- including a whopping 51 percent who "strongly" disapproved of how Bush did his job.”

And, even his supporters are limited to the ISRAEL FIRST elite and disillusioned few.
Other than those, no one with the least amount of intelligence, dignity and common sense would ever acknowledge him let alone approve his job handling.

Faramarz Fathi

Posted by: frft5 | January 22, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

History would be kind with Pres. Bush if I were a historian. I miss his folksiness already especially in light of this new O-nion. Layer and layer of hype over hype.

Posted by: tuan2le | January 21, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

So much depends on what happens in the decade following Bush's presidency. If Obama begins to dismantle some of the more draconian security measures that Bush established, and then the US suffers another serious terror attack sometime after, Bush will suddenly look a lot better in many people's eyes. Depending how Obama handles the economic situation and Iraq or Afghanistan, Bush could end up looking not so awful.

Especially since Obama's economic plan so far is, well, nothing, and since many of the people he is pulling in to craft that plan are, like Geithner, the same people who helped plan the bailout under Bush, so far I am seeing considerable continuity between the two administrations in financial policy. This could bolster Bush if the economy gets better soon, or it could hurt him if it doesn't, or maybe more of the blame for things getting worse will shift to Obama for continuing with flawed policies.

What is certain is that elements of the left will absolutely not like Bush ever. They will hate him as much as they hate Nixon, and with Nixon, they even blame him for Vietnam, even though their darlings, Kennedy and Johnson, are the people responsible for that mess. Nixon, remember, ran against Johnson's Vietnam policies and won a big portion of the anti-war vote. But that doesn't matter in people's memories...which only goes to show how memories distort perceptions on events, which can only help Bush in the long run since his favorability cannot get much worse than it is now.

Posted by: blert | January 21, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Bush's swansong was to tell Israel that it was entitled to kill innocent Gazans even though they are held hostage by Hamas.

As for his library. Well after he puts his comic books on the shelves along with his baseball cards there is gonna be a lot of empty space unless he goes to a garage sale and buys a lot of unread books real cheap.

History will judge this President and his many indecencies with contempt and scorn. If it does otherwide then it will applaud his wrongs.

Posted by: robertjames1 | January 21, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse


Now I know why you assigned that screen name to yourself. You cannot change the facts of the Katrina disaster. Nowhere did I say that the Federal response was adequate. However, the problems of the Katrina disaster were made worse by mismanagement on the state and local level. All you have to do is compare the abilities of Florida and/or Texas to what happened in Louisiana. But then again, you might have to open your mind and let facts in.

Posted by: MikeL4 | January 21, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

As Katrina unfolded, Americans watched Bush Administration officials proclaim ignorance of matters they could have seen with their own eyes just by turning on their TVs. That is the reason why the public suddenly lost faith in Bush. This was the exact moment when everyone realized that the emperor had no clothes, and his pathetic lies fell flat.

For me, the crowning mis-achievement of Bush's tenure is the way he legitimized unconstitutional tactics such as illegal detention without Habeus Corpus, due processs, or even a right to speak to a lawyer, brutality towards detainees which most of us believe to be outright torture, and warrantless searches. This reckless and immoral gutting of our Constitution, and of the rights which our people have taken for granted for the past 400 years, makes all of Bush's other misdeeds -- even including his criminal mismanagement of our economy -- seem like chump change...

Posted by: jerkhoff | January 21, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

To MikeL4: You and Brownie are the only two people on the face of the earth who believe that George W. Bush responded adequately to hurricane Katrina. And even Brownie is having second thoughts. So stop wasting your breath -- your argument is making you look like a fool...

Posted by: jerkhoff | January 21, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse


Actually, you are incorrect. Florida, who as you know learned from Andrew, had their emergency declarations in hand when they got hit, twice. Second, Bush chose not to come, so as not to get in the way of rescue efforts that his entourage would have entailed. Third, most of those folks caused their own problems by staying. The levee breaking was not Bush's fault as much as Democrats want it to be. The man in charge of FEMA by the way, is just the public head. Day to day operations are run by deputies. Anybody who works in government knows that.

America may not have captured Osama, but we darned sure but his whole network out of whack. No hits on the United States. I'll take that.

Posted by: MikeL4 | January 21, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

A Bush Legacy Bounce?

Two simple words: No Effing Way...

In fact, once the remaining sheen of 9/11-related hero-worship has faded, the true extent of the damage Bush has done to our great nation will finally be visible. And we all get to see how his disastrous policies will play out. In particular, we are just seeing the very beginning of the worldwide financial disaster which happened while our emperor-with-no-clothes was out riding his bike...

Posted by: jerkhoff | January 21, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Our President, today in his first day in office, put on hold America's shame....Guantanamo. Bush stated that "torture" was acceptable, if that was the way we would achieve information. For that statement alone, he has to have earned a special place, with Goebbels, Hitler and other Nazis and those from Sudan, the Congo, and various other countries, in hell. I came to America, a young immigrant 40 years ago. I was never illegal in America. I was proud to be an American, where people had due process, that "thing" that protected us from a host of evils. Then Bush got elected, and I slowly lost that euphoria that made me American....that unique happiness. Today, after a cold stand yesterday in D.C., after seeing a young man who could have been related to me, sit in the White House and almost his first action is to stop Guantanmo....thank you, Mr. President, and God Bless.

Posted by: sjdason | January 21, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

The only thing the Bush legacy should be remembered for is a bumper sticker I saw the other day that said simply this.

OSAMA: The man Bush DIDN'T get!

It seems america has forgotten 9/11 and the man who murdered over 2,000 americans.

Posted by: captre2000 | January 21, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Bush's legacy:

$5 trillion more in government debt
$10 trillion of lost market value of stocks and real estate.
A banking system near collapse
An auto industry dying
A spiking unemployment rate

This is what's called keeping us safe?
Some legacy!

Posted by: optimyst | January 21, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse


You write pretty good fiction there. Everything you stated is the rhetoric from the right. In 2004 2 hurricanes hit Florida, they didnt ask for fed assistance either but Dubya was on the ground in Florida both times within 24 hours. I lived in S FLA over 8 years and the people there didnt heed hurricane warnings either till Andrew hit us. So you dont think placing an Arabian show horse judge in charge of FEMA had anything to do with it?

Posted by: rharring | January 21, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Obama made an executive order today allowing the acceptance of FOI requests for all agencies. The formerly classified secret Energy Task Force Hearings during which Republicans and their Big Oil corporate sponsors planned the invasion of Iraq and subsequent privatization of the second largest oil reserve on the planet, will be declassified and available to print journalists like myself. What does this mean? It means hundreds of more books will be written exposing the truth American already know about the plan and orchestration of retrieving these Big Oil contracts. It will therefore lower Junior Oil Boy's legacy further to blatant war criminal. Republicans are scurrying about now between drinks to protect torturers from the CIA and the new attorney general, a biped. The history, which will be written sooner and clearer than pundits predict will be detailed and succinct. Standby and as a journalist I say thank God for a free press and Freedom of Informantion Act requests. As Steppenwolf sang, you've don't have to worry until we come to get ya!

Posted by: rhyer | January 21, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's not forget that Dubya appointed Colin Powell Secretary of State who was the first African-American to hold that position - Condoleezza Rice was the first African American woman to hold that position and watching on CNN this morning Powell himself was quick to point out increased spending on AIDS research, so given the passage of time a number of the accomplishments of the GW Bush administration may fare better than a lot of the commenters here would like to acknowledge.

The last 4 years likely won't stand as well as aspects of the first 4, particularly following 9/11 - but that will be up to the future to decide.

Posted by: tollman54 | January 21, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

When you're so far down there's no where to go but up.

But, even 50 years from now, Comrade Bush will still be the Worst President Ever.

And Cheney will be 3rd worst VP.

Posted by: WillSeattle | January 21, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"dognabbit" - GHW Bush, one of only three known adults "unable" to correctly recall his whereabouts upon hearing of JFK's assassination (Hitler-financing Prescott Bush's protege Richard Nixon and CIA officer E.Howard Hunt the other two), killed John Kennedy to keep us in Rome's slave plantation of Vietnam (Viz. two FBI memos which place him in the CIA, which a duly empaneled Federal Jury in 'Hunt v. Liberty Lobby' found guilty of the crime - from Hoover's desk; and in range - FBI SA Graham W. Kitchel phone memo), supplying W.'s single "qualification" to be unconstitutionally cheated into the WH (Viz. Breyer dissent 'Bush v. Gore') by only the Roman Catholics' votes on the Supreme go on and commit 9/11.

Their bi-partisan false elite (the Anti-Christ's Fifth Column, as America's Founder Th. Jefferson would put it) faction must be extirpated or their curse shall remain and Our Nation subjugated or destroyed.

Posted by: iamerican | January 21, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

It's a good question and one that few on this page have addressed with any maturity. I don't really see too much of a bounce, not because of all the bad that was done but there are only a few items that could be pointed to as good. Even Nixon is remembered in almost mythic terms for his "opening" of China and even, paradoxically his ending the Vietnam war which he inherited.

But Bush? I guess there is some chance that a democratic arch extends in the Middle East from Turkey, through Iraq and has some influence on Iran and other countries. Wishful thinking? probably, but still a possibility that the Iraqies will have a grudging respect for fate, if not Bush that turns the area into a growing economic zone. While I'm getting speculative, it could also become a melting pot of Shi'a and Sunni interests.

US citizens will not want to admit that the US economy is their fault. True, an administration should have put the brakes on irrational exuberance but this is blamable on both parties.

I see some bump, but more accompanied by disinterest.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | January 21, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Usual nonsense: First off, Katrina's humanitarian toll was because people did not listen to warnings to leave. Second, the Governor of Louisiana delayed asking for an emergency declaration, which delayed aid: Third, the incompetent Mayor Nagin of New Orleans did not make the proper preparations: Fourth, media hype of the conditions at the Superdome also fed into the hysteria of the moment.

There were federal failures in the Katrina response, but it was President Bush who fixed them. Remember, it was he who ordered in Gen. Honore to take care of the situation that the NOPD and Natl Guard would not handle.

Bush was one of the strongest Presidents in the history of our nation. He will be remebered as such. He acted to keep our nation safe after the 9/11 attacks. He acted with America's interests at the top of the list. He was decisive, confident, strong, and led with integrity.

Posted by: MikeL4 | January 21, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Maybe after being duly tried and convicted of mass murder, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against nature, the World Court will hang the rotten drunk with a bungee cord thereby giving him a nice bounce at the bottom.

Other than that, disappear you stinking creep.

Posted by: rcubedkc | January 21, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

People on the Right like to portray the Left's disdain for George W. Bush as nothing more than nasty partisan politics. But Bush was something more.

Things would've been less partisan if McCain had beaten Bush in 2000. And while I didn't agree with Bush Sr.'s politics, generally I do like the guy.

Dubya, however, was an affable, incurious puppet who was groomed and manipulated by the Neocons for a power- and money-grubbing trip to the White House. He was a privileged goofball who never had to work half as hard as his father. Everything has been handed to him and he's always expected that someone will bail him out of his jams. The sin is that while he may have been a "uniter" as Governor of Texas, he was a "divider" as President.

For me, his most annoying phrase was, "The American people need to know that [blah, blah, blah]..." We "need" to know, he would say. This is the language of a man who thinks he has all the answers. He's the Decider.

Stephen Colbert best phrased Dubya's stick-to-his-guns philosophy: "He believes the same thing on Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened on Tuesday."

No, History will not be merciful to George W. Bush.

Posted by: dognabbit | January 21, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps if Bush and Cheney are charged, tried, and found guilty of war crimes we won't have to worry about their evil legacy becoming diluted.

Posted by: buzzsaw1 | January 21, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

The ONLY good thing about Bush, and this is rather like a default, is that his "legacy" has prevented older bro Jeb from running for prez, or senator from Florida. Small comfort. Jeb is equally as bad but much brighter.

Posted by: shapiromarilyn | January 21, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

As any literate American is welcome to read Emeritus Professor David Ray Griffin's "The New Pearl Harbor," to know with absolute "willing to pull the switch," moral, legal, and ethical certainty that Bush and Cheney committed 9/11, history will only record his trial and execution...or the demise of American Exceptionalism.

Posted by: iamerican | January 21, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Douglas MacArthur was reviled by all as a WWII hero. President Truman fired this beloved fellow in the midst of the Korean war. It wasn't until well after that war that it became obvious to the rest of us that MacArthur very much deserved to be fired. He was a loose cannon. (A). He scornfully ignored the commander in chief's orders .. and .. (B) he made it clear that he believed that we should drop nuclear weapons on Manchuria. A very scary combination.

George W. Bush didn't argue with his loose cannons, he encouraged them.

There's no parallel.

Posted by: kcooper35 | January 21, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"However we do know that since 9/11 until the time he left office there were no terrorist attacks on American soil."


Posted by: nodebris | January 21, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

If we are attacked again within 3 yrs by terrorists, Bush will look much better and Obama will be limited to one term.

Posted by: ahashburn | January 21, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

A lot will depend on how President Obama performs. If his administration demonstrates average or above competency, the contrast to the Bush administration will be more clear. If the economy drags for the next four years and we continue to tread water in Iraq & Afghanistan, there might be a bit more nostalgia for the Bush years. The other significant factor that comes to mind is how his party treats him. The Reagan legacy is driven largely by GOP efforts to whitewash over some of the less savory aspects of that administration. Given Bush 43's lack of popularity even within the party right now, its likely he will not be remembered fondly by many any time soon. We already see the GOP trying to forget the last administration, as they've largely forgotten about Bush 41's, Nixon's, and Ford's.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 21, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

That will depend on how he and members of his administration fare in the upcoming trials. Obama may want to move on but The House will have its pound of flesh.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 21, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Bush spent us another 5 trillion into debt and the worst part of that is we have NOTHING to show for it. We could have had:
Universal preschool
Universal healthcare
Energy independence
First class highways and bridges, rapid transit and energy efficient cars.

But we gave it all to the rich asfter we borrowed it from the Chinese, Way to go Bush, you jerk

Posted by: joelpalmer | January 21, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics." Barack Hussein Obama, 20 January 2009.

Don't worry about Bush's legacy. All it does is encourage the further division of those who supported him and those of us who did not. Now's the time to focus on how to remake America.

Posted by: Kili | January 21, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

no redeaming social values here. there has to be a special place in hell for him.

Posted by: jm54 | January 21, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse


Please, President Obama...

...As your first major act, ban MORE THAN TORTURE...

...Ban policies of EXTRAJUDICIAL TARGETING AND PUNISHMENT... policies that breed torture and human rights abuses AT HOME as well as abroad.

Extrajudicial targeting and punishment allows a calculated bypass of the judicial system... paving the way for human rights abuses -- including DOMESTIC TORTURE VIA RADIATION WEAPONRY that is being widely deployed among law enforcement, the military, and intelligence agencies.

Mr. Obama, domestic torture and physical assault by way of high-tech devices and weapons CONTINUES TO THIS DAY in communities throughout America...

... a covert evil that is happening with the apparent knowledge and approval of U.S. security forces.

And multi-agency "programs of personal destruction" also continue -- what could be rightly defined as an "American Gestapo."

A "parallel system" of transaction processing -- sold as a "tool" in the war on terror -- is being used against "targeted" American citizens who have been denied their due process rights.

The overwhelming number of these "targeted individuals" are innocent of any wrongdoing, and are being subject to endless investigation and extrajudicial punishment due to their political beliefs, their perceived "activism," and for other ideological reasons.

These Bush era programs continue -- and the authoritarians who established them now work for YOU, Mr. President. Please take action to ensure that the rule of law is restored -- and that the officials who have detrayed their oaths of office are REMOVED FROM POWER and brought to justice.

OR (if link is disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 21, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Even a dead cat bounces once.

Bush is the worst of the worst and a more disastrous 8 years is difficult to imagine. He will be like a rotten mackerel, shining and stinking in the moonlight. It is said we get the government we deserve. What did we ever do to deserve Bush? If nothing else, future Presidents can ask "what would Bush do?" and then do the OPPOSITE

Posted by: joelpalmer | January 21, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Memory may soften over time, but Bush will be remembered in the same category as other disastrous Republican presidents like Nixon and Hoover.

History may judge him harshly for sending thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths with a set of lies just to win a midterm election, but that's a minor point. He's going to want a pretty good defense attorney when he goes to meet his Maker.

Posted by: lartfromabove | January 21, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Fred Davis and Jim Innocenzi, a couple of kool-air swillers no doubt.

GWB will probably bounce... from the "Very WORST" to "Merely $H!TTY".

It also depends on how effective Obama is as President. If he's seen as tackling the problems left by GWB, not to say he has to solve every problem but he must be seen to working on them, then GWB will lag.

Posted by: Roofelstoon | January 21, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

This economy is going to bring a lot of pain to a lot of people, for a long time. While the conditions that brought us here ripened under Bush's "watch" (ahem)--and carried Obama into the White House--the real adversity will be experienced largely during the Obama Administration. That's enough to equal "causality" for plenty of folks. The Bush years will start to look rosier. (And only historians will remember how we got here.)

Posted by: Sophie2008 | January 21, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

--"Why, in this 'impartial' posting on Bush's legacy "--

This is a blog, writen by one dude. Get a clue.

So - if reputations mellow over time - then W might not be the worst president? Unfortunately for him, all the other contenders for the title have been mellowing a lot longer than duba ya.

Posted by: DonJasper | January 21, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

As Bush himself said, history in time will judge him. What he left out, he'll be judged as the worse in history, no matter how long time passes.

Posted by: PatrickNYC1 | January 21, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Bush LIED to Americans in the STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS claiming Saddam had sought uranium in Niger. Then Cheney covertly, and treasonously, directed the outing of Secret CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson in a bizarre attempt at dismantling the correct criticism by her husband that unmasked the lie in a New York Times commentary- Ambassador and Niger expert Joe Wilson.

Bush read to children and froze when 9/11 occurred. He froze again when hurricane Katrina devastated our National landmark known as New Orleans. Instead of decisive action, Bush flew over New Orleans in a photo op as millions of people begged for rescue from rooftops above the flooded ground.

Bush spied illegally on Americans at home. Bush subjugated the constitution and made us the hated target of terrorists world-wide. Then he sent our finest men and women to fight his illegal, and pointless war in Iraq under the NEO-CON ideology that falsly insists democracy can "domino" throughout the middle east if only we force it upon them like we did in Iraq. Of course the ideology was a complete and utter falshood and its attempt ended in abject failure.

Bush politicized American justice and allowed the congress and Senate to become houses of official bribery each time Tom Delay opened the register he kept on his desk to see how much money a petitioning constituent asked for assistance of any kind, on any matter. Delay remains unr3pentant for his bribery crimes in office that shamed American democracy.

This administration and the NEO-CONS who brought it to you will rightlybe seen in history as treasonous, self-serving, money stealing, unendicted criminals, all.

Posted by: onestring | January 21, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the emotions will be less partisan, but I can't believe the results will bode well for Mr. Bush, regardless. With "...more focus on what the results of his policies have been," as Mr. Nelson says, I think people will slowly come to realize that Bush's policies have had more lasting and damaging consequences than we realize now. His hatred of regulation has led to more hazardous workplaces, toxins in toys and food (especially those imported from overseas), and possibly irreversible damage to a great many plant and animal species. Then, of course, there's the damage to American reputation worldwide, and the corresponding loss of influence.

Leapin, with all respect, Al Qaida commits terrorist acts on its' own schedule. They plan in terms of years and decades, not months. Despite all Bush's talk, our ports are still unguarded and the so-called "Department of Homeland Security" is a joke. Why else do you think security was so high during yesterday's inauguration?

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | January 21, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Maybe one of the dead cat variety. In the long term he will go down as one of the all-time losers with Buchanan, Pierce, Harding, Hoover, and Carter.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 21, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Let's see Day 1 -

Israel completely pulls out of Gaza during a cease fire.

Not a good start for his legacy - thank goodness!

Posted by: cmecyclist | January 21, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

There are several reasons why Bush could be judged even more harshly in a historical context than he is by present public opinion:

1. Historians are more likely to piece together the full picture of the extent to which his adminstration has usurped the Constitution.

2. He may yet be held to account in some official way for abuses of the office, whether in terms of violating the Geneva Convention or other legal transgressions.

3. The full measure of the damage of his economic policies may not be known for some time to come. Like Herbert Hoover, he may in fact fall, rather than climb, in terms of future public opinion.

4. Future researchers will veryify what most of us thought, but simply could not believe, -- that he was a moron.

Posted by: Stonecreek | January 21, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Why, in this 'impartial' posting on Bush's legacy are three people quoted - a director of Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, and two Republican media consultants? That's hardly a fair canvassing of pundits and experts! Why not? Because the more general assessment would be embarrassingly negative? Nonetheless, impartiality demands quotes from Democrats, and independents, not solely paid Republican operatives.

Posted by: dleder | January 21, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

The sad fact is that many people will conveniently forget what the American people became under Bush's rule. He was dismissive of public opinion, dismissive of Constitutional limits on his authority, and openly contemptuous of the consequences of his actions. He had a terrible effect on the attitudes and behaviors of the American people, bringing out the weaknesses we sometimes mistake for strength: ruthlessness, vengefulness, and paranoia.

Bush's contribution to the history of the US can be boiled down into two words: "broke" and "despised." He brought out the worst flaws in the American character, and people will forget that, because we won't want to remember ourselves that way.

Just as when he was president, Bush's best hope of rehabilitation lies in self-deception.

Posted by: lonquest | January 21, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: NotBubba | January 21, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse


He will always be remembered as the worst POTUS ever.


And forever.

Posted by: wpost4112 | January 21, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Two words -- "dead cat"

Posted by: anon99 | January 21, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

It may take 25 years to truly know the total Bush legacy. However we do know that since 9/11 until the time he left office there were no terrorist attacks on American soil. If his successor let's his guard down and experiences one there may be no “bailout” of the effect that it would have on top of the present economic situation.

Posted by: leapin | January 21, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Eight years is a very long time in Washington years - like 56 dog years.

I don't think Bush ever got too far past the 2000 election/court ruling that put him in office -- how can you start like that and then pull everyone together -- it's like a reverse-mandate.

Posted by: newbeeboy | January 21, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

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