No president wants to dwell on his mistakes while leaving office, but George W. Bush certainly left a few things out when asked for a list during his final press conference.
"Clearly, putting 'Mission Accomplished' on an aircraft carrier was a mistake," he said. Bush confessed that "some of my rhetoric" was mistaken. He admitted to miscalculation in trying to overhaul Social Security. Abuses at the Abu Graib detention camp were regrettable, the outgoing chief executive said. Oh, and not finding those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a blooper, Bush acknowledged.
Bush's failings go much deeper. Historians take a long time to render final judgments. But an early sounding conducted by researchers at George Mason University found sobering results for Bush. More than 100 professional historians around the country were asked to rank all presidents and 61 percent said Bush was the worst of them all. Even more -- 98 percent -- rated his presidency a failure.
Craig blogs daily at CQ's Trail Mix
What makes a lousy president? At least three factors were shared by some of our worst chief executives, according to the university study -- the paranoia of Richard Nixon, the poor ethics of Warren Harding and the faulty judgment of Herbert Hoover.
Bush combined all three. His administration was marked by a paranoid obsession with secrecy, a dismissive attitude toward ethics and a lack of competence highlighted by an ill-conceived invasion of Iraq that led to a miserably managed occupation.
The list goes on -- until next Tuesday.
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