Many of our sophisticated betters on the left have been informing us in no uncertain terms that George W. Bush will go down in history as one of the worst presidents ever. On that point, I am calling “bullshit”!
It is no more possible to make that judgment about Pres. Bush now than it would have been about Pres. Clinton as he was leaving office. There are two reasons:
- History is isn’t about popularity.
- More importantly, you need to know what happens next.
The study of history is about understanding not just who/what/when but relationships, influences and consequences. History is about how one thing resulted in another. It’s about how something was a rejection of something else. It’s about the meticulous documentation of what was important given the luxury of knowing the outcome of events.
If 9/11 turns out to be the high water mark of Islamic terrorism and all the Islamists can do is blow up a few suicide bombs here are there, then that doesn’t bode well for Bush. It would appear he over estimated the threat. Yes, I recognize the potential irony that his success in fighting them might jeopardize his historical standing. On the other hand if 9/11 was just a warm up to more serious attacks then it probably helps his historical standing.
If democracy takes root in Iraq, that will be a plus for him. If a democratic Iraq were to put pressure on the authoritarian regimes to reform, that would be a bigger plus.
But I don’t know what will happen and that’s the point. Right now it’s politics. The transformation to history begins in another 5 to 10 years and won’t be complete for a few decades. I don’t mean decades for the history to be written (that will take much longer). I mean decades for it to become history. It takes that long for the direct events and consequences to play out and, just as importantly, for the documents of the administration to become public. Only then can a real historical assessment be made.
That’s real history.