Saturday, January 17, 2009

Battle Over Bush Era Legacy

By Ben Trott

It is now considered almost common sense to say that George W. Bush is the worst US President ever to have held the office. With his repeated claims, however, to have been misunderestimated, the battle over the administration's legacy is on.

The White House have recently released a document entitled, 100 Things Americans Might Not Know About the Bush Administration Record. It is an (unnumbered!) list things the administration consider achievements to be celebrated. Predictably, not everyone agrees on the need to celebrate, or the legitimacy of some of the claims - see for example this post at the Daily Kos.

According to, Democratic Congressman John Conyers Jr. this week released a 486-page report 'documenting a litany of alleged abuses by Bush and members of his administration.'

Numerous newspapers are currently running retrospectives on the administration and it's record. The New York Times have here assembled links to a collection of articles on the 43rd Presidency, including a list of reviews of books on Bush and his administration. The Washington Post are running a number of pieces on the 'best and worst' of the Bush years. And the Guardian have put together a series of articles, published today, on various aspects of the administration's record - from the environment to civil liberties, the economy, and Aids in Africa - and some of the leading figures within it. The Financial Times today report on British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's 'fond farewell' speech as Bush prepares to depart from office.

The Guardian America have produced a 17 minute film on the Bush years, interviewing their own columnists, as well as writers for the New York Times, the Economist, and

The Economist, in their final issue before Bush's departure, are running a four page article carrying the sub-header, 'Few people will mourn the departure of the 43rd president'. The magazine clearly do not include themselves within this few, despite their 2000 endorsement of his presidential candidacy. (In 2004 they endorsed Kerry and in 2008 Obama).

Bloggers (like myself) are also chipping in. David Corn, over at the Mother Jones magazine's 'MoJo' blog, has put together a list of topics Bush studiously avoided in his farewell speech. On the Huffington Post, there are pieces by Joseph Nye, and the website's editor Arianna Huffington, amongst others. Scott Horton, on his Harper's magazine 'No Comment' blog, compares the farewell addresses of two George W.'s (Washington and W. Bush).

And, of course, satirists, comedians and TV talk show hosts - who have been provided with endless material by the President over the last eight years - have also been paying their final 'respects'. The following video montage was put together for CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. It marked the end of a series they had been running called, 'Great Moments in Presidential Speeches'. (It was, of course, in large part Bush's lack of eloquence which lead to his being 'misunderestimated' in the first place...)

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