I have a feeling that George W. Bush is pretty convinced that history will look kindly upon him. Not that he's ever been the introspective type. But when he does think, albeit briefly, of such things, I wager that his thoughts are not plagued by doubt. He's sure he was right and that someday the world will wise up to it.
I probably won't live long enough to argue the issue, but I'm going to take the other side and contend that Bush will be remembered as a man woefully unprepared for the office of President (he really wanted to be Commissioner of Baseball); as a man who was not the author of the ideas he espoused; and as a bully who ignored both evidence and advice and instead made his choices with a stubbornness reminiscent of General George Custer.
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I do have to be careful. History has surprised me before. Nixon, for example. Watergate is now considered more of a footnote than a defining moment in his administration--something I would not have guessed as I watched the painful Senate hearings in the 70s. Watergate, it seems, did assure us of one legacy: that any Washington scandal will be tagged with a "-gate" moniker, no matter how clumsy ("Iran-Contra-gate"? Ugh).
It seems that Nixon, with his many faults, is best remembered for opening the doors to trade with China., which everyone thought would be good news. Of course, that was when we thought the Chinese would be buying American goods. Funny how things turn out. While we buy tons upon tons of crap (mostly toys, kitchen tools, and other plastic items) from China, the only thing the Chinese seem to want from us is...garbage. Yes, as it turns out, our waste paper and cardboard can be easily recycled to make new boxes for all those crappy toys and spatulas we buy from China. It's sort of a low-rent version of the way the Japanese bought all the scrap iron from New York City's Third Avenue Elevated and then used it to make bombs that they dropped on us at Pearl Harbor. In any case, I wonder if "opening the door to China" will still be remembered as a plus when the Chinese own our asses. Because let's face it, the Chinese have an inexhaustible hunger for expansion and zero ethics...much as the U.S. did in the 1800s as we steamrolled the Native Americans off the continent so we could establish our factories, coal mines, and cattle ranches.
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But legacies are a funny thing. Harry Truman, as it turns out, had an approval rating in 1952 as low as Geoege W. Bush's (about 28%) in 2008. After some Google searches, I can't really determine why. Bad feelings about the Korean War? Or perhaps Truman's attempt at a government takeover of the domestic steel industry as a way of breaking a labor strike (yeh, that might have done it). Nonetheless, Truman is generally remembered favorably. After all, he did drop the Bomb.
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So as we close the door on the Dubya years, I really can't say how history will view this President. Perhaps he'll just be one of those Presidents about whom today's school kids can never remember a thing...like Millard Filmore.