Assessing George W. Bush's presidency

April 13, 2010
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When former President George W. Bush speaks to a pro-life group at Conseco Fieldhouse on Thursday, he will be among friends. Bush sided with abortion opponents as much or more than any president in memory, and 4,000 are expected to show up to hear him.

How he will go down in history in broader terms is another question. Bush was pilloried by both historians and the masses when he left office with an unpopular war in Iraq and an economy sliding into a tailspin.

Historians’ interests have turned their attention to President Obama, says Indiana University history professor Michael McGerr. However, he adds, even allowing for the fairly liberal-leaning views of many in the field, historians largely view Bush’s term in office dimly.

McGerr adds that Bush at least to some extent should be viewed as a creature of his time when it comes to economic issues. Republican-driven, free-market ideology was in vogue, and Americans elected him not once but twice.

On Iraq, the surge offered some hope for the morass.

“It seems to me he was a fairly capable person, more than critics allowed,” McGerr says.

What is your take on Bush? Thumbs up or down?

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  • George W. Bush's Presidency
    President Bush is a good and decent man who did all he could to defeat Islamic terrorism.

    His failure was to have incompetent Secretarys of the Treasury. Also, he increased entitlements, further nationalized education and failed to protect the border.

    These things will keep him from being considered a great President. However, had we elected either Gore or Kerry, this country would be in even greater difficulty.
  • Bush Presidency
    If either Gore or Kerry had been elected instead of Bush, this country's difficulties would have started even sooner than they did. Bush has been demonized by the liberal media. The only thing that can pull his reputation out of the fire is future comparison to Barack Obama.
    • Really?
      Seriously, Joyce? The slide started in Bush's first year. How could it have started any sooner had Gore or Kerry been elected? But to be fair, many of this country's problems pre-date George W. Bush.

      The economy aside, Bush's legacy is tied to Iraq. If democracy there eventually flourishes and leads to reforms in other parts of the region, Bush will be hailed as a genious. If, on the other hand,largely Shiite Iraq eventually allies itself with Iran, Bush's legacy will be severely tarnished. Time will tell. I'm not hopeful of a good outcome, though.
    • mediocre
      Bush was not our greatest president. But one thing that is true is that he is (unlike his presentation skills) actually extremely smart. He stuck to his beliefs and you could count on him to do what he truly felt was best for the country as a whole and was not in the presidency for his own personal triumphs...as with some more current public servents.....well they are servents of the public anymore are they.... celebrities perhaps. War is unpopular always. But the true sign of a good leader is doing the unpopulart thing when it is the right thing to do when it comes to protecting our countries freedoms and those of other countries if we are able. Bush would never had disrespected the constitution and out founding fathers.
      That said....he largely was elected because the alternative was frightening. Just like with Sarah Palin, or any other conservative, the liberal media skews everything to show them in a bad light, and this is what the public believes. Everything Bush did was attacked. Meanwhile no negative story about Obama EVER is aired on the major media. The news anchors took personal jabs and shared their personal thoughts about his character while reporting the news..... since when is Matt Lauer's personal view "news". Its all manipulated.
    • Bush vs. Lao Tzu
      Lao Tzu:
      A great nation is like a great man:
      When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
      Having realized it, he admits it.
      Having admitted it, he corrects it.
      He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers.

      George Bush... paraphrased from the book "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)" by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson:
      Many people, when directly confronted with proof that they are wrong, do not change their point of view or course of action, but justify it even more tenaciously. George W. Bush was the epitome of a man for whom even irrefutable evidence could not pierce his mental armor of self-justification.
      hffyb
    • Bush... but
      Bush was the lowest rated president and the economy during his term was stagnant at best. Some of the things which came in 2007 through today were sparked long before bush's era back in the 80's and 90's on the previous administrations. We cannot blame his administration for the end results, just their actions towards the eventual pending doom which put our economy in the worst recession since the great depression.

      I am still baffled to why we were in Iraq and why we stayed for so long without an exit strategy.

      For those of you who say "Liberal Media"... what is Sarah Palin doing @ Fox News? What do we call Rush Limbaugh? are they also liberal media? are they something else?

      Granted, our media seems divided, but you just have to sift through the redderic and look for the facts within the points of view skewed by all of the 24 hour media. If we were to cut back our media coverage to just what needs to be covered, we could cut some of the news casts down and just watch what is needed and not have these people blaming "Liberal Media" or "Conservative Media" punches for the bs going on. But it is hard to separate fact from point of view when we are so set in our ways of "This is how I feel is right... yadda... yadda... yadda"

      in the end, GW, nice guy, whole country on his shoulders. If I had a chance to have a beer or coffee with the man (non politics related), I would take the offer (or even Obama, doesn't matter to me), but I don't feel that GW was even close to a great president. But that is my 10 cents (2 cents adjusted for cost of inflation)
    • Worst President of my lifetime
      I am not sure how anyone would characterize a Presidency that doubled the National Debt in 8 years anything other than an abject failure. Even more so coming off 3 consecutive years of surplus. Add to that the handling post-Katrina New Orleans, the quagmire of Iraq, the loss of any moral agenda with the promotion of torture and the unbelievable disregard for the rule of law by the refugees from the Nixon years with warrant-less wiretapping. A once-great nation will spend the rest of my lifetime overcoming the hubris, incompetence and willful ignorance championed by the Idiot King and his cronies.
    • I second Tom!
      I find some of the comments on here odd. If anything, the Bush administration helped polarize our nation even more than we ever had been in the past. Do some of you remember how the administration spoon fed us fear every day? I don't miss them one bit.
      To this day unfortunately I still read about "the extreme left vs the extreme right"......I miss the days of center.....if they ever did exist, or when people didn't wear their politics on their sleeve.
    • Talking points
      Tom did a great job regurgitating talking points that have no basis in fact. The Bush Admin repeatedly warned of impending financial problems based on Congressional meddling in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It was Congress that forced banks to make high risk loans. Any surplus from the Clinton years was smoke and mirrors. New Orleans suffered because of years of local graft, corruption, and incompetant leadership. It is insane to blame Bush or the Federal Government. Blame Bush for Katrina, then blame Obama for 1 million still homeless in Hahti? The rest of the talking points are so ridiculous and worn out not even worth blasting with facts. Just drop the self indulgent false outrage.
      • High-risk loans
        Jac, I work in regulatory compliance for a regional bank. The government never forced banks to make high-risk loans. That is a bunch of bunk being made up by talking heads.
      • Selective Amnesia
        at its best. The tipping point for the financial crisis was the repeal of Glass-Stegal, the Depression era inspired regulation that separated commercial from investment banks. This was passed by a Republican Congress along party lines in the late 90's. The seeds were sown by Greenspan who resided in the fantasy world of laisse-faire of the financial system 'self regulating'. The God of the Right - Reagan, raised taxes more than he cut them. The Bushies tried to co-opt the doctrine of less government is better, but you don't get to cite examples of your own incompetence as proof.
      • Bush the Worser or Buchanan
        It is a close call as to which presidency was the worst. Buchanan's intentionally facilitated Southern treason while Bush's incompetence enabled the economy's destruction and drove the state into massive disabling debt. Advantage Bush as not being a traitor so in that sense was not intentionally destructive of the nation. A crime requires act and intent. Buchanan had both bad act and bad intent. Bush only had bad act. But on the upside Buchanan made Lincoln possible [who began curing the cancer of slavery] just as Bush makes Obama necessary [who will take us far towards a final cure for the harm of slavery].
      • are you joking?
        Steve Laudig..... "Obama will take us far towards a final cure for the harm of slavery"??? How is permenantly sealing the publics complete dependance on the government for handouts for healthcare, education, and soon everything, going to undue the harm of past slavery? How is creating a nation further full of people intent of shooting for mediocrity going to do that? Slavery is over....people need to take responsibility for their own actions and wellbeings. Is not total forced reliance on the government in a sense its own form of slavery when there is no alternative given? Think about it.
      • Haiti, not Hahti
        I would like to point out that Haiti is not the United States of America -- even if you look at US dependent areas. To my understanding, New Orleans is located in the USA.

        Though I think my political views should be shown and I am slightly skewed towards the current president and I would give President Bush a thumbs down. I heard a talk by Vice President Biden when he told a story about something Senator Mansfield said to him after he questioned a comment by Senator Helms on the Senate Floor:

        "Joe, every man and woman sent here is sent here because their state recognizes something decent about them. It's easy to find the parts you don't like. I think you job, Joe, is to find out that part that caused him to be sent here...Joe, never question another man's motive. Question his judgment but never his motive."

        Think about that as we discuss politics in the future including the merits of President Bush and President Obama.

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