With 98 percent of the Bush tax cuts effectively being made permanent, there is an argument that George W. Bush’s conservative legacy is looming even larger than might have been anticipated.
And the tax cuts aren’t the only reason Bush might look better today than he did a few years ago. As the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin notes,
Bush seems to be a more accomplished Republican figure in the Obama era. He was a compassionate conservative who got 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. While cutting taxes and fighting two wars, he was a model of fiscal sobriety compared to his successor. Despite President Obama’s rush for the exits, Iraq remains intact in a post-Saddam Hussein era. Bush’s support for advances in drone warfare have been enthusiastically embraced by Obama. Bush’s intelligence policies eventually led to the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Unlike Obama, Bush recognized the nature of our enemy and rallied a nation in a time of crisis. His AIDS-fighting project has saved millions of lives in Africa. His free-trade agreements with South Korea and Panama have been ratified. His deeply held convictions on human rights stand in sharp contrast to Obama’s dismal record.
Conservatives can quibble over some of this. Not everyone would take pride, for example, in noting that Obama’s drone campaign originated with Bush.
What is more, spending during Bush’s tenure certainly helped lead us to our current fiscal predicament. To suggest anything else — or to downplay that — would be nothing short of revisionist history.
And, of course, Iraq’s future is still unclear. Bush’s legacy will inexorably be tied to that nation.
But I think it is fair to say that the Bush era looks perhaps better at a distance. I’ve always believed he would be remembered much more fondly by history.