This past week, to celebrate the opening of the George W. Bush Liberry for Presidentin' on the SMU campus, Republican partisans have been trying to rehabilitate the presidency of the worst president in modern times. Well, at least two conservatives -- George Will and Matthew Dowd -- weren't buying any of it one bit on "This Week."
WILL: Well the American people want to think well of presidents and ex-presidents. The problem with the Bush legacy is the tensions within it. Arguably his greatest decision was the surge. But the surge was to correct for the disastrous implementation of the invasion of Iraq which itself never should have happened, we now know.
Second, his greatest legacy are two superb Supreme Court candidates, nominees, now justices. On the other hand, one of them came after a disastrous suggestion, Harriet Miers.
In Afghanistan you had an invasion he had to take, but you had terrible mission creep afterwards and we got into the business of nation building. The prescription drug entitlement, the first major entitlement he ever passed without a dedicated funding source, aggravated the coming crisis of the welfare state.
And his favorite piece of legislation, "No Child Left Behind" offended every conservative instinct by nationalizing, further nationalizing a quintessential state and local responsibility.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd you worked for the president for several years. Broke over the Iraq War.
DOWD: Well yeah and I was there for the first five years of the administration, as you say, broke over the Iraq War. I think it was a great moment. These are always great moments that happen, the five living presidents there. They pay respects regardless of party. The libraries and presidential institutions are an important part of our cultural and research and conversation.
And I think the president, reflecting back, had done a number of good things. What he did for aid to Africa. As Donna has pointed out, what he did in the aftermath of Katrina, and a number of things. And I think what you saw, everybody thinks that this is a good man. But the problem that I saw in this whole thing as we had that day and everybody focused on it, it's as if you were asking the people who got off the Titanic, they say, other than that, how was the trip?
And the Iraq War was a disaster. We spent over $1 trillion. We lost thousands of lives. I had a son that served there. We lost thousands of U.S. lives, thousands of lives over in Iraq. And the Iraq War for at least 20 years is going to affect us. It's already affecting our foreign policy in Syria. It's caused the president to not say, well I don't know if I can do this because of what happened in the Iraq War.
It's affected our domestic policy because the lack of funds, the lack of ability. And it polarized the country. And so I think we pause for a moment and say, yes he's a good man. But in the end, the Iraq War was such a disastrous decision, it affected this country so dramatically. His tie to history is going to be completely tied to that.
But he did Keep Us Safe -- except for 9/11, the DC Sniper, the Anthrax attacks, Katrina -- and the 7 embassies that were attacked during his presidency.
(video h/t Heather)