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As Obama Enters History Books, Bush Presidency Limps Out

Barack Obama is now the 44th president of the United States, the first African-American to hold the office. George W. Bush leaves Washington with a record that is mixed at best, and what many call a failed presidency.


George Bush and his legacy: Iraq, the war on terror and the global financial crisis

Last week, George W. Bush defended his eight years in the White House at his final press conference as president, saying he had a "good, strong record." Many commentators, however, have expressed a different opinion when looking back at the two terms of the Bush administration.

Most Americans will not miss the Texan; his approval ratings on leaving the White House stand at 22 percent, according to a poll last week conducted by the New York Times and CBS News. The disapproval cut across party lines.

On Tuesday, people in the Washington subway system trying to make their way to inauguration ceremonies began to sing "Goodbye Bush, goodbye Bush," a spontaneous outpouring that seems to reflect the mood in much of the United States, and indeed, the world.

Also on Tuesday, anti-war protesters threw shoes outside the gates of the White House on President Bush's last day in office. About 500 people marched to the White House and threw about 40 pairs of shoes at the gate and a 25-foot-tall inflatable Bush figure in a "Mission Accomplished" flight suit while tourists looked on and took photos.

The lows, and a few highs

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush welcome President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle on Tuesday

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush welcome President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle on Tuesday

Bush leaves his successor a wide variety of serious problems, including:

--an economy in deep crisis, with a near-frozen banking system, a housing market in collapse and mounting numbers of Americans losing their homes.

--a war on two fronts, with an insurgent Taliban reversing gains in Afghanistan.

--progress with nuclear weapons in North Korean and Iran, two members of Bush's "axis of evil."

--frayed relations with allies, who took umbrage at the Bush administration's attitude of "you're either with us or you're against us."

--weakened civil liberties in the United States, as warrantless wiretaps and provisions of the Patriot Act.

--record-breaking deficits after inheriting record surpluses from President Clinton

--inaction on the issue of climate change

There are some positive lights to remember, such as his $15-billion plan for AIDS programs in Africa, which have made real differences in the lives of many. In 2008, that program was boosted to $48 billion over the next five years.

There have been no other terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11.

A turkey presidency?

Bush in an overly intimate moment with a Turkey

Bush in an overly intimate moment with a Turkey

Still, Bush is having difficulty avoiding the phrase "the worst president ever." He has said that history will judge him differently than his most ardent critics do today.

Following the inauguration ceremony, Bush will leave the Capitol by helicopter for Andrews Air Force base just outside Washington and from there head back to Texas aboard a US Air Force jet.

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