Bush Beyond Iraq

From the Post's "narcissistic child" article:

Bush is fixated on Iraq, according to friends and advisers. One former aide went to see him recently to discuss various matters, only to find Bush turning the conversation back to Iraq again and again. He recognizes that his presidency hinges on whether Iraq can be turned around in 18 months. "Nothing matters except the war," said one person close to Bush. "That's all that matters. The whole thing rides on that."

The Bush presidency is often seen through this lens. It's also true that for a two term president who enjoyed GOP congressional control for several years, he really does have remarkably few legislative accomplishments. Where other leaders would have seen an opportunity to push a governing agenda, Bush saw an opportunity to evade congressional oversight as he used the executive branch to commit crimes against the constitution, fill many executive agencies with incompetents, and fill others with people who helped his campaigns' financial backers rob the public. Which leads us to what's probably the most important aspect of Bush's non-Iraq legacy, his decision to provide an elegant demonstration of public choice theory and destroy public faith in the possibility of government action by showing exactly how poorly a government can be run.

Beyond that, we have a failed stab at immigration reform, massive tax cuts that saddled the country with big debts but produced a macroeconomic situation worse than that prevailing under his predecessor's policies, an increase in the level of subsidies for fossil fuel producers, an increase in the level of farm subsidies, a Medicare reform structured as a large subsidy to health insurance and pharmaceutical firms, the institutionalized use of torture and arbitrary detention, and a return of illegal domestic surveillance. Also -- No Child Left Behind, and an invasion of Afghanistan whose goals, though eminently justified, have not been achieved.