Friday, February 23, 2007

Texas Monthly Weighs in on the Bush Legacy

It's not a pretty picture. Texas Monthly, the award-winning magazine published south of the Red River, has published a cover story on the legacy of favorite son George W. Bush.

The magazine asked a group of 15 scholars and political observers to weigh in on the President's performance. Predictably, the Republican pundits are much more sympathetic than the Democratic writers.

Nevertheless, there's a definite theme to the proceedings: the Bush legacy is in trouble.

Here are a few samples from Texas Monthly's March issue:

You can have a phony pretext for for, but you've got to win. By not winning in Iraq, President Bush has very little legacy left to stand on.
--Douglas Brinkley, presidential scholar and professor of history at Tulane

I am unable as of now to escape the feeling that George Bush has done what is, for a president, a very dangerous thing. He has surrounded himself with people who have the same way of looking at the world as he does.
--Robert Caro, Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential biographer

Will Bush be in the top rank among presidents? Obviously not. Will he be seen as an average president? Possibly not.
--Robert Dallek, presidential biographer

The things that he chose to have happen—cutting taxes and going to war in Iraq—were not decisions he had to make at all. He decided to do these things utterly on his own. The fact that he got them both wrong is going to really tell against his historical reputation.
--H. W. Brands, University of Texas professor of history

Bush is a risk taker, and we all know that risk takers will sooner or later bet the house on a bad hand…. In the end, it's one of those tantalizing stories of greatness in some measure spoiled by one bad call.
--Niall Ferguson, Harvard history professor and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution

As we said, it's not a pretty picture. Even long-time Bush supporters are depressed about the president's record. Marvin Olasky, the UT journalism professor and conservative writer who coined the term "compassionate conservatism," found little to celebrate in the Bush years. Reviewing Bush's efforts on behalf of the poor, Olasky concluded that the president has been "moderately weak."

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