It now seems from the ice age, yet it was only four years ago that President Bush was basking in his reelection. Vice President Cheney, introducing Bush to a cheering crowd in the Ronald Reagan building on Nov. 3, 2004, boasted of a "consequential presidency which has revitalized our economy and reasserted a confident American role in the world."
Cheney cited how the GOP had expanded its control in Congress and concluded with, "If ever a man met his moment as leader of this country, that man is George W. Bush."
Bush, puffed with pride, declared that, "Our military has brought justice to the enemy, and honor to America."
"We are entering a season of hope," he said. "We'll continue our economic progress. We'll reform our outdated tax code. We'll strengthen the Social Security for the next generation. We'll make public schools all they can be. And we will uphold our deepest values of family and faith."
Suffice to say, none of that promised agenda is George Bush's legacy.
In fact, none of it ever came to pass.
Thanks to two unfinished wars and an economic meltdown, Bush's legacy is the historic landslide election of an inexperienced Barack Obama and a liberal-led Democratic Congress determined to undo every shred of the last eight years.
Bush leaves his own party defeated and demoralized. Not since Jimmy Carter's election in 1976 have Dems enjoyed such a smashing victory. Bush's impact on the GOP was nearly as bad as Richard Nixon's was after Watergate.
Bush became so toxic that his irascible Republican stable mate, John McCain, ran against him. As it came down the stretch, the campaign was a bidding war to see who could promise more change to Washington. The criticism of the White House was so uniform that it was often hard to tell Democrats from Republicans.
The political class will long debate whether anyone from his party could have shaken free of Bush's shadow to win this year. McCain proved only that an aged, inarticulate campaigner, one prone to random impulses and who fumbled the early days of the Wall Street chaos, was doomed. We'll never know whether a better candidate would have produced a different result.
We do know that Bush has dealt his successor a rotten hand to play. He leaves behind a government less trusted by the public and beset with more giant problems than at any time in recent memory. That's Bush's legacy, too.
Our military is dangerously stretched and the $700 billion financial bailout has become a slippery slope toward ever bigger government. We are a debtor nation, borrowing to pay our bills from creditor nations who often wish us harm. A recession seems a certainty.
For the six years the GOP held the White House and narrow majorities in Congress, spending was obscene. Border control was an oxymoron, with millions of illegal immigrants pouring into America.
Of course, Democrats were reckless obstructionists many times and their leaders in Congress are less popular than Bush. The liberal media never gave Bush the courtesy they extended to Bill Clinton, who actually was impeached.
But Bush ultimately has no one to blame but himself. Even before the financial meltdown revealed weak controls, I argued that "incompetence" was the nondenominational argument against him.
Name the problem and the first MBA President - Harvard Business School, no less - failed to roll up his sleeves and get to the bottom of it. Bush was a big picture, Uncurious George, despite the fact that it's in the details where government fails or succeeds, and where ordinary people live and work.
Iraq is the best example. The failure of Bush and his team to see how the insurgency was growing remains infuriating. It wasn't until 2006, when it was clear Democrats would take over Congress on the issue, that Bush changed course.
The President, with McCain prodding from the Senate, deserves full credit for the belated surge that has helped tame Iraq. As Bob Woodward chronicles in "The War Within," his book on the White House internal debates on the war, Bush had to overrule many of his commanders and aides to make the surge happen.
Yet Bush, instead of being honest with the public about the difficulties sooner, "displayed impatience, bravado and unsettling personal certainty," Woodward writes, with the result being higher American casualties and diminished support, both at home and abroad.
History may eventually regard Bush in a better light, as the reputation of nearly every President changes over time. To cite one major point in his favor, America has not been attacked since 9/11.
But the American people, circa 2008, is poised to give a clear verdict on his tenure and his party. They want Democrats to run the country. That's George Bush's firstname.lastname@example.org