When Bush left office, he left his successor at least four works in progress:
1. The Iraq war had been won, but it was going to take some ongoing effort to foster a Western-friendly, freedom-preserving government.
2. Taming Afghanistan was always a questionable prospect, but thanks to intelligence gains made possible by our work in the region, our interrogation practices, and the initiation of cross-border drone strikes, the noose around Osama bin Laden and senior al Qaeda leaderships' necks was getting tighter.
3. The liberation of the Iraqi people, along with the freedom message preached by the Bush administration made the middle east ripe for the subsequent Arab Spring.
4. Quick action by the Bush administration in the form of TARP prevented a banking meltdown that might have dragged our economy down to Depression depths.
Unfortunately, followup by Barack Obama was seriously deficient. Four chances to benefit the country and the early returns suggest he only scored on one of them.
1. It remains to be seen how Iraq will work out in the long run, but at this point it appears that Barack Obama will have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. He failed to negotiate of Status of Forces agreement leading to a more precipitous withdrawal than necessary or desirable.
2. Kudos to the Obama administration for knocking off bin Laden and keeping the pressure on al Qaeda in AfPak.
3. The Arab Spring has been seriously mishandled by the Obama administration. He was quick to abandon allies and those who were cooperative and slow to confront enemies. Egypt has been lost to the Islamist group that inspired al Qaeda more than any other. Libya is a basket case and Syria is in flames. Meanwhile, potential revolution in Iran has been put down. War threatens the entire region due to the instability in Syria. It's hard to imagine how things could have gone worse.
4. After Bush averted an economic disaster, Barack Obama failed to build the recovery he promised us. His stimulus prodded the economy along at an anemic rate, partly because shovel-ready jobs on presumably necessary infrastructure turned into temporary government employee protection programs and extensions of unemployment benefits. Four years later, we're still limping along.
One more thing the Bush administration left us with that seems to be bearing fruit now is it's all-of-the-above approach to domestic energy. While Obama has tried multiple approaches to limit carbon-based energy, the Bush policies stimulating development and technological advances have overcome those obstacles and seem to have us headed toward positive energy territory as a net energy exporter over the long term.
"I'll see you guys in New York." ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to US military personnel upon his release from US custody at Camp Bucca in Iraq during Obama's first year in office.