The list of lasts for George W. Bush is diminishing steadily and we are now down to four days before he leaves office.
His final press conference was of a piece with his conduct in office- no regrets and no explanations. However in in his valedictory he continues to demonstrate just how unfit a President he has been.
His comment on upholding the moral authority of the United States was surely designed to do no more than raise a cynical laugh: this was after all the President who presided over Abu Graib and Guantanamo, who prosecuted an illegal war and who- more than any single one of his predecessors- governed in a politicised and highly partisan manner.
I notice Andrew Roberts has written that he believes that George W. Bush was a "Good President". Frankly it seems to me that this is just another of journalistic contrariness: taking a position in order to make the story.
The fact is that, at home just as much as abroad, the popularity of this President could not be lower. His policy mis-steps, on the "War on Terror", on Iraq, on the Economy, have left the United States massively weaker: in hock to its strategic enemies and reviled for its arrogance and perhaps paradoxically for its weakness.
The Bushies were a narrow and exclusive group of like minded individuals whose approach to policy was the opposite of intellectual: it was faith based position taking and the consequence of this was a failure to deconstruct their failures until it was already too late. Instead of listening to the widest views, the Bushies talked only to the hard line right wing ideologues of the neo-Conservatives and in the end they made both the Administration and the Republican Party into prisoners of the extreme religious right.
Barack Obama inherits a legacy of division and of failure. The economic crisis he faces will brook no delay. Yet the scale of the problems are so large and the potential for politicking so tempting that it is hard to see how the American Constitution will be able to deliver effective decision making between the different branches of government, even if Obama has the right policies (and it is not clear that he has). "No drama" Obama will need every ounce of his legendary patience to get even the smallest changes underway.
Nevertheless on January 20th we can at least breathe a sigh of relief that at least George W. Bush is no more. Whatever the future brings we can, for a brief instant at least, hope that the 44th President will repair the vile legacy of the 43rd.