Paul Krugman says the biggest problem with George Bush wasn't the things he did, it was how he did them:
The Great Degrader: ...I sort of missed the big push to rehabilitate Bush’s image; also..., I’m kind of worn out on the subject. But it does need to be said: he was a terrible president, arguably the worst ever, and not just for the reasons many others are pointing out.
From what I’ve read, most of the pushback against revisionism focuses on just how bad Bush’s policies were, from the disaster in Iraq to the way he destroyed FEMA, from the way he squandered a budget surplus to the way he drove up Medicare’s costs. And all of that is fair.
But I think there was something even bigger, in some ways, than his policy failures: Bush brought an unprecedented level of systematic dishonesty to American political life, and we may never recover.
Think about his two main “achievements”, if you want to call them that: the tax cuts and the Iraq war, both of which continue to cast long shadows over our nation’s destiny. The key thing to remember is that both were sold with lies. ... Basically, every time the Bushies came out with a report, you knew that it was going to involve some kind of fraud, and the only question was which kind and where.
And no, this wasn’t standard practice before. ... There was a time when Americans expected their leaders to be more or less truthful. Nobody expected them to be saints, but we thought we could trust them not to lie about fundamental matters. That time is now behind us — and it was Bush who did it.
The media also echoed the Bush talking points on tax cuts and the war without giving them the scrutiny and skeptical eye they deserved (I got so tired of hearing the false claim that the Bush tax cuts would pay for themselves). There has been an admission that, well, maybe a few mistakes were made, but has the media learned its lesson? The ability of Republicans to use the same tactics in recent political debates suggests the answer is no.