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What will be the George Bush legacy?
CBS News ^ | Sept. 3, 2008

Posted on 09/17/2008 8:05:54 AM PDT by meandog

CBS) For as long as he's been asked about it, George Bush has publically professed to not care much about his legacy.

"I'm reading about George Washington, still," President Bush said in 2006. "My attitude is, if they're still analyzing number one, 43 ought not to worry about it."

And why would he want to, given the long list of targets he's presented to his critics, CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.

The tragically weak response to Katrina, which will always overshadow the administration getting it right - like the last few days with Gustav.

No Child Left Behind, the president's education initiative that even some supporters concede is a failure.

An economy in shambles.

"He's in the bottom 10 to five presidents in the history of the United States," James Thurber, an American University historian, said.

But the president could take heart that none of those will be his defining issues.

"I think the assessment of President Bush begins not with Inauguration Day, but with 9/11, and then it goes to Iraq," said Ken Duberstein, former chief of staff for Ronald Reagan.

And there, even Democratic critics like Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute, say the success of the surge in Iraq will help the President's legacy.

"He went to war in a deliberately cavalier way," O'Hanlon said. "But let's also be fair. Iraq now seems to be a quasi-functioning Democracy without weapons of mass destruction, without genocides against citizens or attacks against its neighbors. So to some extent, we gotta give our president his due."

Still, presidential legacies are by their very nature an exercises in comparison. If you want to understand the signature of this two-term Republican president, compare it to the last one.

"In 1988 with Reagan in the mid-50s in popularity, everybody was clamoring for a third term with Ronald Reagan. And now the only people who are talking about a third term for President Bush are the Democrats," said Duberstein.

It seems indisputable that George Bush will address the convention, greatly diminished from his previous appearances. If the first draft of history is written by reporters, the historians, like James Thurber, are about to get their turn.

"Well all presidents think that history will change perceptions of their activities," Thurber said. "I think history will be unkind to this man."

And it would seem they won't offer the president much comfort.

© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush; bush43; bushlegacy; failure; georgebush; greatestpresident; greatpresident; presidentbush; rino; term2
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To: Reagan Man

I remember when the bombs were dropped on Japan.

There was opposition, serious opposition and to this day there are those on the left who decry the dropping of the bombs.

Did you ever hear Peter Jennings insisting that Japan was simply trying to preserve their culture when the bombed Pearl Harbor.

41 posted on 09/17/2008 9:18:51 AM PDT by Carley (she's all out of caribou.............)
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To: meandog
Very postive, conservative Supreme Court nominations and impact. Only after Harriet Myers was turned down from consideration!

Was Chief Justice John Roberts before or after Harriet Myers?

42 posted on 09/17/2008 9:25:08 AM PDT by frogjerk (MSM: We will not question Obama bin Biden...)
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To: Carley

The Manhattan Project was a well kept secret. It was even kept a secret from VP Harry Truman. If you mean there was opposition to the Nakasaki a-bomb being dropped, okay. But by that time, the invasion of Japan was off the table.

I’m not clear exactly what you mean with the reference to Peter Jennings.

43 posted on 09/17/2008 9:32:30 AM PDT by Reagan Man (McCain Earned My Vote --- With Palin on the ticket, MOST conservatives should be satisfied.)
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To: servantboy777
That about sums it up in my opinion also. Though how things turn out in the middle east years from now and it's influence in the region will have a lot to do with his legacy overall, domestically speaking his over emphasis on foreign affairs(just like his father)made me also think...what are these guys priorities?

The media and the other liberals have and always will hate his guts, not so much for his policies but because he is....a Republican(of course thats open for interpretation, in so much that today being "Republican" no longer necessarily represents being a "conservative").

To be fair, especially when dealing with spending, and something the MSM will never admit to, during his Presidency he has had to deal with issues that in my life time no other has had to deal with. Natural disasters, financial institution corruption/meltdowns, terrorists attacks have been around for years, but not at the scale of size/severity we have seen the last 8 years.

Disappointed at how he handled many of these issues? Yes, especially with regard to spending and more government. But to the extent of their severity you have to wonder how anyone else would have handled it, not only with the pressure of having to make hard choices but with a media that constantly tried to marginalize every decision he made for political points. Not any easy task.

So if I had to give my opinion of his presidency, in one word, I'd say "disappointed"...but with an asterisk, in that 9/11 most certainly had redefined whatever his intentions actually were coming into office(good or bad), of that, for the most part, we will never know.

(Heh, then again there is that conspiracy theorist in me that thinks about shadow governments, globalist power broker intervention, black helicopters....nahhhh)

44 posted on 09/17/2008 9:45:35 AM PDT by RckyRaCoCo (Gov. Granholm=Garbage)
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To: Reagan Man

One year on VJ Day Jennings did a program on the dropping of the bomb. He defended Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and decried our dropping of the bombs.

The second bomb was dropped because the Emperor insisted he was not going to surrender.

Of course, we could have used the Obama plan and talked about the ending of the war.

45 posted on 09/17/2008 9:48:40 AM PDT by Carley (she's all out of caribou.............)
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To: dragnet2

Yes, kudos. There are not a lot of leaders who would have had the courage to fight the war on terror. Look at the number of spineless leaders who voted for war, and then back peddled. I never said the war tactics were the best, but the strategy to go after these insane folks, who if they could, would push one button to make USA the next Atlantis, is top notch.

46 posted on 09/17/2008 9:55:18 AM PDT by mlocher (america is a sovereign state)
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To: mlocher

I’ll agree to that. The leadership in D.C. is just rotten, and all those entrenched career politicians should have been gone many years ago.

47 posted on 09/17/2008 10:00:51 AM PDT by dragnet2
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To: Carley
Thanks for the clarification on Jennings.

I knew why the second a-bomb was dropped. We were discussing opposition at home. Since it was kept a secret from the general public, there was no opposition from the American people. Any internal opposition within the government was very limited. No one wanted to see 250K-500K US troops killed by invading Japan. When the military leaders informed Truman the bomb was ready, old Harry didn't flinch. He handed complete control of the operation over to our military leadership and rest is history.

48 posted on 09/17/2008 10:03:47 AM PDT by Reagan Man (McCain Earned My Vote --- With Palin on the ticket, MOST conservatives should be satisfied.)
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To: dragnet2
The leadership in D.C. is just rotten,

Agreed! Have a great day!

49 posted on 09/17/2008 10:11:54 AM PDT by mlocher (america is a sovereign state)
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To: Reagan Man

I think Pres. Bush will go down in history as a great president who liberated Iraq. I know nice guys finish last but I do think Bush will go down as a great president- I think the Iraq thing will outweigh what he has or hasn’t done with the economy etc.

50 posted on 09/17/2008 10:12:32 AM PDT by LYSandra
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To: meandog
Well, IMO, Clinton is already on the list of terrible presidents but, also, Bush will never rise to the top.

I don’t think Bush will rise to the top. He will be in the top bracket.

Yes, the response for a global war on terror may help but Bush is far from being victorious. Take a look at the other historic presidents during war: Bush 41, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Truman, FDR, Wilson, McKinley, Lincoln, Polk, Madison and Washington. Who stands out to you, who doesn't?

Perhaps you should consider Harry Truman. His cold war stance not to mention Korea earned him opposition and scorn from all sides. He had low polls. Yet on his train ride home, massive crowds turned out at every stop to cheer him. I think that is the most likely Bush parallel.

Bush, Carter, Hoover, Fillmore, Cleveland and Harding all served during bad economic times and I cannot believe any will be ever afforded good legacies.

Legacies aren’t built on what the economy was like. Legacies are built on what kind of stamp the president left on the country. Did he make changes or improvements that were permanent? Bush did. He’ll have a legacy that rises over time, as had Ronald Reagans.

51 posted on 09/17/2008 10:33:26 AM PDT by Scourge of God
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To: LYSandra
I don't believe this has much to do with being a nice guy or not. Its all about success in office. Sadly, the liberal establishment decides the fate of all Presidential legacies. Having said that, even most conservatives admit Bush is not a great POTUS. But once he's gone, he'll be missed by many, grudgingly nonetheless. And especially if the Messiah Obama gets elected.
52 posted on 09/17/2008 10:34:51 AM PDT by Reagan Man (McCain Earned My Vote --- With Palin on the ticket, MOST conservatives should be satisfied.)
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To: Matchett-PI
The “Sunni Awakening” of tribal sheiks against al Qaeda was nowhere in sight. An attempt at a minisurge of U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad failed dismally. George Casey, the American commander in Iraq, believed the only way the U.S. could “win” was to “draw down” — a view shared up the chain of command, including Centcom Commander John Abizaid and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

And this is where Mr. Bush should have immediately shown leadership by firing Rumsfeld and shelving Casey and Abizaid...he didn't fire Rumsfeld until the day after the 2006 elections.

Politically, the war had become deeply unpopular in an election year that would wipe out Republican majorities in Congress. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group, run by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, was gearing up to offer the President the option of a politically graceful defeat, dressed up as a regional “diplomatic offensive.” Democrats united in their demands for immediate withdrawal, while skittish Republicans who had initially supported the war, including Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon, abandoned the Administration. From the State Department, Condoleezza Rice opposed the surge, arguing, according to Mr. Woodward, that “the U.S. should minimize its role in punishing sectarian violence.” Senior brass at the Pentagon were also against it, on the theory that it was more important to ease the stress on the military and be prepared for any conceivable military contingency than to win the war they were fighting.

Now contrast this history witb what Lincoln faced. Lincoln fired Simon Cameron, he got rid of Salmon Chase and even dumped Vice President Hanibal Hamlin. He opposed Raidical Republicans and Democratic Copperheads in Congress. Rice is still there, so are Michael Chertoff and Henry Paulson. Among the only fired ones are his former press secretary who turned on him, "Hecuva of a Job" Brownie, and Crummy Rummy (who would probably still be here if the Congress hadn't turned over in 2006). The other well-known and respected Cabinet members: Powell, Evans, Norton, Thompson, Ashcroft and O'Neill all quit for "personal reasons."

Handed this menu of defeat, Mr. Bush played opposite to stereotype by firing Mr. Rumsfeld and seeking advice from a wider cast of advisers, particularly retired Army General Jack Keane and scholar Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. The President also pressed the fundamental question of how the war could actually be won, a consideration that seemed to elude most senior members of his government. “God, what is he talking about?” Mr. Woodward quotes a (typically anonymous) senior aide to Ms. Rice as wondering when Mr. Bush raised the question at one meeting of foreign service officers. “Was the President out of touch?” No less remarkably, the surge continued to face entrenched Pentagon opposition even after the President had decided on it. Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went out of his way to prevent General Keane from visiting Iraq in order to limit his influence with the White House.

And Mullen still serves as there as its chairman...Meanwhile, as you point out, "Ulysses Grant became Lincoln’s general-in-chief in 1864, barely a year before the surrender at Appomattox" after Lincoln fired CICs Meade, Hooker, Burnsides, McClellan and Pope.

53 posted on 09/17/2008 10:45:28 AM PDT by meandog (please pray for future President McCain, day minus 138-Jan. 20--and counting)))
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To: Matchett-PI
Later recounts would show that George W. Bush would have won the election in Florida under any method considered by either Al Gore or the Florida Supreme Court. “The Miami Herald and USA Today reported George W. Bush would have widened his 537-vote victory to a 1,665-vote margin if the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court would have been allowed to continue.”

Not to start an argument, but if you research more recent statistical evidence about the election of 2000, had the entire state of Florida been recounted (as the Florida SC desired before the U.S. SC stepped in) instead of the disputed counties (that Gore insisted on), it is now estimated that Gore would have garnered more votes in Florida than Bush....but, thankfully, Gore was/is stupid!

54 posted on 09/17/2008 11:01:30 AM PDT by meandog (please pray for future President McCain, day minus 138-Jan. 20--and counting)))
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To: meandog
) is now estimated that Gore would have garnered more votes in Florida than Bush....but, thankfully, Gore was/is stupid!

Excuse me, but that is a seriously flawed estimate.

Of the many recounting methods that the media sponsored, one of them involved counting "overvotes" -- where more than one contestant had been voted for. The counters were charged with trying to guess which contestant the voter really intended to vote for.

Sometimes it was obvious. Sometimes not. But calling this method a "Gore win" is totally misleading as such ballots are NEVER counted -- nor did any of the parties ask they be counted, nor would even SCOFLA have endorsed such a count.

55 posted on 09/17/2008 11:09:25 AM PDT by okie01 (THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Ignorance on Parade)
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To: meandog
Just because your standin in a garage, doesn't make ya an automobile.

Put on a Stetson and pose for the cameras fixin a bob-wire fence don't make-ya a Texan.

Sorry, don't work that way.

Natives are conservative at birth. Glad to say, my son is conservative to the bone. Makes me proud.

He’za 18 and registered to vote and can't wait.

56 posted on 09/17/2008 11:25:27 AM PDT by servantboy777
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To: okie01

Well, any way you cut it, Bush has not turned out to be the most popular president. Then again, presidents shouldn’t run for a popularity contest they are elected to be leaders. As I pointed out, I like Bush the man but I really can’t muster a good opinion of Bush the president because, except for a brief period after 9-11, he has not been a leader, IMO. And, should Obama become the 44th chief executive, I really am going to blame Bush for the defeat of McCain/Palin because the Dims are savy enough to realize that if they can make McCain into Bush, as they are trying to, Obama wins.

57 posted on 09/17/2008 11:30:21 AM PDT by meandog (please pray for future President McCain, day minus 138-Jan. 20--and counting)))
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To: Reagan Man

Also, Barry Goldwater helped to resurrect the Truman mystique by oftn saying how much he admired Harry.

58 posted on 09/17/2008 11:37:56 AM PDT by Theodore R. (Cowardice is forever!)
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To: Theodore R.

Really. Didn’t know that.

59 posted on 09/17/2008 11:40:52 AM PDT by Reagan Man (McCain Earned My Vote --- With Palin on the ticket, MOST conservatives should be satisfied.)
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To: meandog
It will take many years for a consensus to develop.

For example, the Supremes can still have an impact many years down the line.

60 posted on 09/17/2008 11:45:25 AM PDT by verity ("Lord, what fools we mortals be!")
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