Ceremonies like the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library tend to warm the hearts of elite pundits, who value such displays of uncritical bipartisanship. The media conversations about the ceremony mimicked the tone of the ceremonies themselves, which is why you heard very little in the way of criticism of the Bush legacy.
On the NBC Nightly News (4/24/13), David Gregory attempted to list as Bush’s accomplishments his “place in launching the school reform movement” and “his willingness to tackle entitlement spending”–the latter a curious description for an administration that added a very expensive drug benefit program to Medicare.
But one of the more interesting moments came during the roundtable discussion of ABC‘s This Week (4/28/13), where former Bush adviser and ABC regular Matthew Dowd was introduced this way:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd, you worked for the president for several years. Broke over the Iraq War.
DOWD: Well, yeah, and I was there for the first five years of the administration, as you say, broke over the Iraq War.
Now when someone says they “broke” over the Iraq War, you might be inclined to think that they did that sometime before 2006 or so, which is about when Dowd is saying he left. The New York Times published what seemed like one of the first post-administration interviews with Dowd in April 2007.
To be fair, Dowd was critical of the Iraq War when he appeared on ABC in 2013. It does seem like, in many ways, there is a built-in media preference for anti-war views that come from people who initially supported such wars. In Dowd’s case, that meant being the chief campaign strategist for Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign, promoting the guy who apparently he’d eventually “break” with over a war that started the year before.
For the record, that Times piece about Dowd’s new outlook closes with this quote predicting his own future:
I wouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t walking around in Africa or South America doing something that was like mission work…. I do feel a calling of trying to re-establish a level of gentleness in the world.