President Bush said in a televised farewell address that he had some setbacks during his eight years in office, but had always done "what I thought was right." (The New York Times) Bush said his administration's main achievement was keeping the nation safe after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that shaped his presidency. (Chicago Tribune)
What the commentators said
"It's hard to see someone leave the presidency so shamed," said Joan Walsh in Salon. Bush's televised goodbye was pathetic—he "sounded like a kid reciting the high points of fourth grade." Thank goodness Jan. 20 will soon be here, "because this president has damaged the nation beyond what I'm certain our next president can fix."
Ingrate, said W. Todd Akin in The Washington Times. As Bush prepares to leave the White House, Americans owe him a thank you, especially for the "primary focus" he placed on protecting us all following Sept. 11. His "pro-active approach may be criticized, but it worked."
Attacking Iraq and failing to finish the job in Afghanistan didn't make us safe, said David Corn in CQ Politics. Giving Bush credit for that is like thanking a rooster for crowing and making the sun rise. What really defines Bush's presidency is that he is leaving the "country burdened with two unresolved wars and an economy in severe decline."
"Except for Richard Nixon, no president since Harry Truman has left office more unloved than George W. Bush," said Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post. Truman's rehabilitation took decades, but Bush's has already begun. And the main revisionist is Barack Obama, whose "continuity-we-can-believe-in transition" has served as a tacit endorsement on Bush's policies on everything from the economy to the war on terror.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- Why baseball is America's most dangerous spectator sport
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
- 9 Harvard dropouts who became fabulously successful
- The dangers of our passionless American life
Subscribe to the Week