Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bush legacy

Since this came up in recent comments, I thought it might be interesting to see Matt Frei of the BBC's effort to define the Bush legacy.

On the positive side:
And although the president seems to disagree with his own spies, he can at least turn round and say that tough talk has worked - that Iran dismantled its nuclear programme at about the same time as Colonel Gaddafi of Libya fessed up to his weapons of mass destruction, which, I seem to remember, was when Saddam Hussein moved from his palaces into a hole in the ground.

Iraq as a deterrent to unruly regimes? Discuss.

In Africa, which the president is about to visit, his administration has spent more money than any of his predecessors on Aids prevention and education. That's something to boast about.

On the negative side:
The world's biggest economy has hit the buffers and there is only so much any president can do about it.

The fact that a $145bn stimulus package, announced last Friday, had the same effect on the ailing economy as aspirin on a cancer patient says less about the package and more about the underlying fears that the salad days of glorious debt are finally over.

After years of bingeing, we have woken up with a throbbing hangover. No-one should be surprised.

Some economists will put some of the blame on the president's tax cuts and federal spending spree.

But even if Mr Bush has been the spender-in-chief, we have all been willing accomplices. From credit card debt to leased cars to Everest-sized mortgages, we have almost all been sub-prime.

I suspect the current president's legacy will take years to be defined.

Much of it will depend on events beyond his control in the Middle East and in the economy.