As we approach the end of George W. Bush's presidency, many postmortems will be written to explain how horrible or wonderful the President performed depending on point of view. No doubt many liberals will be quick to proclaim Bush as the worst president ever. But he did in fact have many achievements.
I believe that history is likely to judge him far more kindly as time passes. President Bush's lasting legacy will be the War on Terror. His response to the 9/11 attacks reset forever our approach to terrorism. Unless President-elect Barack Obama totally dismantles the anti-terrorism measures adopted under President Bush (and I don't think he will), President Bush will long be remembered as the President who forever changed America's approach to terrorism.
But there are those critics of President Bush who will bring up the economy as evidence of malfeasance on the part of the outgoing President. A couple of factors to consider: (1) the foundation for the economic collapse was laid back during President Clinton's time in office when regulations restricting lending practices at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and (2) the financial crisis occurred so late in President Bush's term that there was not time for him to see the crisis to a conclusion.
Come January 20th, the economy will be Obama's problem. It will be the issue most likely to dominate his presidency much as the Great Depression did for most of Franklin D. Roosevelt's time in office. The best way that President-elect Obama can succeed is to realize first that blaming President Bush will get him nowhere.
Mr. Obama has stated on several occassions that FDR has been a role model for him as he prepares for the presidency. He would do well to remember that Roosevelt's economic policies did more to prolong the Great Depression that to relieve it. Unfortunately for him, Democrats have never met a government program that they didn't like. Unless Mr. Obama can demonstrate a willingness to stand up to his party and try to relieve the economy through other means besides more spending we may be in for tough economic times for many years to come. That will be the legacy that will dog President Obama, not President Bush.