History has shown many differing views concerning the legacies left by our Presidents. In many instances the historical view of a particular President differs either slightly or greatly from the general view of that President either while still in office or immediately after leaving office.
President Lincoln in his fight to preserve the Union was extremely unpopular with many in the North and of course almost all of the South. Yet in the light of history what he did as President has been proven to be right and he is generally considered by most historians as out greatest President.
President Reagan was thought by many while in office as dangerous and even somewhat aloof as President because of his administrative style of delegating responsibility. Yet as the Berlin Wall fell and the collapse of Communism followed and his economic policy which was controversial at the time proved to work and extend the prosperity of the eighties well past Reagan’s terms of office, historians have ranked him in the top five of our Nations Chief Executives.
Some of the Nations more popular President’s have not stood the historical test of time as their legacy has been studied in the light of history. Franklin Roosevelt for example remained a very popular President throughout his time in office yet history has shown that much of his New Deal which consisted of government solutions to solve the Great Depression actually lengthened the time of the depression and had it not been for World War II, FDR’s New Deal policy would have plunged the country into deeper financial trouble.
How then will history judge President Bush and what type of legacy will he leave behind. In many respects it is still early to speculate on his legacy not so much because he still remains in office but some of what he leaves behind has yet to be finished. The situation in Iraq is one example of unfinished work that history will make judgement on when the task is fully accomplished.
Iraq became an extreme thorn in the flesh for President Bush because of several missteps made by his administration in judging the aftermath of the initial invasion. But a great deal of the trouble that Iraq caused for Bush came from the well orchestrated campaign by Democrats and the media in demonizing Iraq and Bush though Iraq.
As the situation improved dramatically the left continued to paint Iraq as a failure until the success was so obvious they would begin looking like fools to claim otherwise. The left then used Iraq as a campaign issue to try and show an inept President who started an unjustified war. As history examines Iraq once the final chapter is completed, President Bush will be vindicated in that the foray into Iraq is proving to leave behind a better Nation whose place in the world is stronger because of the Democracy that has emerged as a result of US intervention.
On the home front President Bush is leaving a much more troublesome legacy. While running on conservative values and fiscal ideas he has governed in many respects almost polar opposite of the limited government and decreased spending ideology of the conservative movement. This has directly resulted in the demise of the Republican Party as the leading force in politics, leaving behind a weak and struggling party which he lead for eight years.
This in itself will be one of the most damaging aspects of the Bush legacy as history evaluates the his Presidency. Bush entered the White House with clear majorities in which he kept until the final two years of his Presidency. He leaves the White House with his party in a small minority looking for leadership to change the direction of a devastated party.
The Bush Domestic policy has provided a increase in the size of government and spending because of his belief that he would be able, as President to bring the Republican and Democrat parties together in a series of bipartisan initiatives in which the Democrats seized the opportunity to take advantage of Bush and force through programs that increased government then used those programs against Bush in an attempt by Democrats to look like fiscal conservatives to win elections. A strategy that worked in both 2006 and 2008.
While both parties are to blame for the current financial trouble, Bush has been painted as the major contributor which provided Democrats with the political strength to win both the Presidency and even larger majorities in Congress this year, adding to the demise of Republicans and the Bush legacy of domestic and fiscal troubles.
Over time historians will take a more objective look at the causes and affects of the Bush Domestic policy and the financial crises that ensued in these final months of his Presidency. When that objective look is taken the blame for the problems will be equally assigned and Bush will come out the better from an historical view point.
When his Presidency is fully evaluated by the more objective view of time and not through just the prism of the current political climate, Bush like many President’s before him will fair better than his popularity and his critics portray him while in the final days of office. Like Harry Truman who left office as an extremely unpopular President but historically became a much stronger Chief Executive, Bush will follow a similar path.
His handling of the devastation of 9/11 and his ability to protect this Nation from another attack throughout his Presidency will be the center piece of his legacy. His unwavering commitment to end terrorism and leave behind a safer Country and world will through the hour glass of historical perspective be the strength and shining light of his legacy.
Bush will not be evaluated as one of our Nations greatest Presidents. Nor will he be evaluated as one of our worst. His ability to keep this Nation safe during some of our most dangerous times will way heavily to his favor historically. While his ideological belief that political adversaries could work together will be looked upon as somewhat naive, historically it will be seen as a noble idea which worked against him.
Like his father before him President Bush will be seen as a leader who had high ideals and was a strong Commander in Chief who protected the Nation in times of great peril. But his ideals prevented him from recognizing political reality at home and the ability of the opposition to demonize a President. As such though having noble ideas and intentions, the legacy of George W. Bush will be one of strength at war and weakness at home.