The final report card for George W. Bush won't be in the mail for another few years. (Nixon's is still being revised--and, for that matter, Lincoln's.) But with just a few weeks to go before the 43rd president moves back to Texas, it's not too early to measure the impact of his policies across American life.
Bush campaigned on a promise of smaller government, a pledge he kept only in part. He stripped staff members and resources from areas like environmental, health and corporate regulatory enforcement. But the extended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the worst financial crisis in decades swelled the national debt to its highest level in absolute terms, and its highest since the 1950s relative to GDP.