On the Iraq war:
“The argument for his eventual vindication is stronger than many might expect.
“On foreign policy, Bush emphasizes that he pursued a “freedom agenda” and spread freedom to Iraq. While the Iraqi future is far from clear, it is possible that the country becomes a democracy and a reliable ally of the U.S. If that transformation is completed, then it could well be viewed as a turning point in the war on terror.
“On the home front, to virtually everyone’s surprise, we’ve avoided a terrorist attack since Sept. 11.”
On the body blow to the economy:
“We are in the midst of the worst recession of our generation, yet it is hard to attribute this crisis to anything that Bush actively did. If his large deficits produced skyrocketing interest rates that crushed the economy, then the argument that Bush caused the mess we’re in might hold water. If he was the one who deregulated the financial sector, then we could justifiably blame him for our predicament.
“Instead, the forces that allowed the financial sector to blow up -- deregulation, for example -- were in place when he took office. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who failed to stem the crisis, was inherited from the previous president. Bush even tried to avert the crisis early and often in his presidency, as he sought strict limits on the actions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage-finance companies that were at ground zero of the crisis.”