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Bush is back: Is the lens of history changing?

NBCNews.com’s Michael O’Brien: “The [George W. Bush] library dedication offers Bush loyalists an opportunity to highlight what they see as the positive legacy of his eight years in office. But even among supporters, there is a sense of resignation that he won’t win the kind of historical vindication that once seemed assured.”

Said Ari Fleischer: “I’m increasingly doubtful, just because I think the lens of history is not changing. A lot of us used to say President Bush will look good and he’ll be vindicated in the public eye. But realistically speaking, I don’t see a lot of the people who write history all of a sudden changing their mind about George W. Bush.”

To that point… “Nearly 60 percent of the historians and political scientists in a 2006 Siena College survey rated George W. Bush’s presidency a failure -- an unscientific sampling that echoed public dismay over Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war,” Jill Lawrence writes. “Adding insult to injury, two-thirds of the 744 respondents said he did not have a realistic chance of improving his standing. … The former Texas governor was rated one of the nation’s five worst presidents—39th of 43—in a Siena College ranking by 238 presidential scholars in 2010. He was a marginally better 36th in a 2009 C-SPAN ranking by 64 students of the presidency.”

Lawrence points to Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower as presidents whose images were greatly rehabilitated after they left office. But this will be tough to get around for Bush: “It is possible that documents and archives will reveal Bush in a more positive light, but there’s no getting around the fact that his decisions on Iraq and on fiscal policy have led to huge problems. He not only committed U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 9/11, his decision to invade Iraq kicked off a 10-year war of choice that has destabilized the Middle East and drained the United States of blood, treasure, and the will to intervene abroad. He cut taxes across the board and borrowed money to pay for the wars as well as a new prescription-drug program for seniors. That led to a ballooning deficit and debt, and left the country ill-positioned to deal with the Great Recession that set in toward the end of his term.”

Bush-Cheney’s not exactly a love fest nowadays. Check out Bush’s response on his former vice president to CSPAN.

“I really don’t miss Washington,” Bush said, adding, “So while we’ve got friends in Washington I’m not all that friendly to Washington.”