I did not agree with him on much. His love of spending was legendary. He failed to use the veto pen in many cases where it was warranted. And the bit about "abandoning free market principles to save the free market" was maddeningly obtuse. However, President Bush put his country's defense first, and did not attempt to weaken or discredit our military. His cabinet was not loaded with avowed communists, terrorist sympathisers, tax cheats, and other undesirable persons. His economic policies, while they favored "crony capitalism," did not seek to destroy or redistribute wealth.
...even Democratic Vice President Joe Biden now calls the war in Iraq a success.
"I am very optimistic about Iraq," Biden said recently. "You're going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government."
At the same time, Obama already has overrun and overshadowed the soaring budget deficits and record debt that Bush ran up while he was cutting taxes, launching two wars and expanding Medicare to cover prescription drugs. Gross federal debt in fiscal 2001, Bush's first year as president, was $5.7 trillion ; it was $9.9 trillion in fiscal 2008, his last full year. Obama's budget projects that the gross federal debt will be $16.3 trillion at the end of fiscal 2012, the last full year of his first term.
Still, Americans blame Bush more than they do Obama, by about 3-1, for the weak economy and the deficits, according to an ABC-Washington Post poll this week.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said his party would campaign against Bush this fall even though the former president wasn't on the ballot, blaming him for the recession that started on his watch — rather than the Democrats who controlled Congress starting in 2007 — because "presidential leadership sets the tone." [My emphasis]
One can only hope they will keep their word. I seem to remember the unemployment rate under Bush staying around 5% or so (a figure the Clinton administration was overly proud of in its day)until the end of 2008, when the Enigma was elected.