You've got to give some credit to Ross Douthat: he must be about the only person in this country right now who he still finds it in himself to defend George W. Bush. Recently, we have seen most Republicans go out of the way trying to prove that their party is not represented by Bush Jr. The damage his presidency has done to the Republican Party (let alone the country at large) might never be overcome. Still, Douthat sticks to his guns and comes out with a garbled piece in defense of the former President.
Any other politician, Douthat claims, would be "canonised" for some of the things Bush did. So what are those things that, according to this journalist, merit canonisation? The answer Douthat provides is unexpected: the war in Iraq (yes, the one that resulted in countless Iraqi and American deaths and turned Iraq into a perennial terrorist threat to the US. Like we didn't have enough of those) and last Fall's economic bailout (yes, the one that had billions of taxpayer dollars going in an identified direction and that many people believe has been Bush's last effort as a president to do a favor to his Wall Street buddies.) Why should Bush be canonised for these actions? According to Douthat, he was trying to correct his own mistakes and that alone deserves respect. Of course, Bush himself never recognized that he actually made mistakes, but a little thing like that doesn't stop Douthat, his most dedicated groupie.
The above-mentioned canonisation-worthy feats are not the only important achievements of the Bush administration. Douthat talks in glowing terms about "Bush-era bipartisanship", which as we all know is the Republican term for "everything always has to be our way." He goes as far as to endorse the disgusting No Child Left Behind Act that makes every K-12 teacher in America go into fits of rage.
In general, it feels like Douthat fell asleep during the last years of Bush's presidency and dreamed up this vision of Bush coming to his senses and correcting his mistakes (which those who have been awake know to be egregiously false). According to Douthat, in the last years of his administration Bush managed to become . . . a good president: "The next time an Oval Office occupant sees his popularity dissolve and his ambitions turn to dust, he can take comfort from Bush’s example. It suggests that it’s possible to become a good president even — or especially — when you can no longer hope to be a great one." Of course, people's definition of 'good' might vary a lot but if this is Douthat's definition of a good presidency, I have to say that his standards are pretty low.