Like Churchill, Bush has been warning of the growing terrorist menace (manifested anew last week in Great Britain), while many in the Democratic opposition complained that the domestic security steps he took to prevent future attacks went too far.
But the steps he took to defend our homeland -- the Patriot Act, beefed-up defenses and satellite surveillance to spy on terrorists and their cells in this country -- have kept us safe. This, too, will be one of Bush's legacies, one that will loom even larger if, God forbid, the next president lowers our guard and we are attacked again.In domestic matters, he took risks and had some spectacular failures, but the ones that succeeded will likely be with us for years to come.
His proposed Social Security investment accounts and his initial idea of a guest-worker migrant program were blocked on Capitol Hill, but there's no doubt in my mind that both will be reconsidered in the future long after he has left office.
Other proposals that were enacted will be a big part of his legacy: the tax cuts that prevented an economic collapse in the wake of 9/11, financial scandals and Katrina; and, most certainly, the addition of two conservative jurists, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, to the Supreme Court who have tipped its decisions sharply to the right (something that Ronald Reagan was unable to do).
Two other initiatives on education reform and lower prescription-drug costs for the elderly, both of which are disputed by their critics, will be with us for a long time as well.
I was not a supporter of the enlarged role of the federal government in our schools, but the latest data show higher test scores and achievement levels. The market-based drug program has proven to be popular and, in a surprise to everyone, much less expensive than was forecast.
In an era of nonstop polling and 24/7 news, we judge our presidents on a week-to-week, month-to-month basis, and then, when they have left office, we judge them again from a longer perspective.
When that measurement comes, I think Bush is going to stand the test of time.