I think the best thing we can say about the Bush presidency is that America survived to see the end of it. Although, looking around at the economic carnage we’re experiencing, it was a pretty close thing, and certainly we didn’t get much help from the administration itself.
Two recessions – this one often called the worst since the Great Depression. Two overseas wars, one of them ill-advised from the outset and largely irrelevant to making the US safer, and both of them quite expensive in both blood and treasure. The utter failure of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. The ongoing gutting of the nation’s schools thanks to projects such as Leave No Child Behind. All adding up to a presidency which seemed to care little (if at all) for ordinary Americans, and was only interested in making a splash and further enriching its already-rich friends.
Has George W. Bush been the worst President in history? Perhaps not, but certainly he’s among the worst. The usual joke is to ask such a character not to let the door hit him on the way out, but honestly I’m okay with the door hitting him.
I’m not as enamored with Barack Obama as many are, although certainly I agree that he has the potential to be a great President. (I don’t think we’ve seen a truly great President since at least Kennedy, maybe Truman.) I hope that people can temper their expectations to account for the fact that his administration has a long way to climb to dig us out of this economic hole before they can really start building on the foundations again. That may lead to some disappointment in the next couple of years. (One almost wonders whether the Bush administration helped engineer the recession to make it that much harder for their successors to get anything done, or undo their disastrous policies. That’s maybe a little too cynical for even me, though.)
Still, the first step on the road back is to throw out the people who brought you to this place and elect someone reasonable. And it looks like we can put up a “Mission Accomplished” banner for that part.
However, the hard part has barely begun.