George W. Bush’s presidency was bookended by a pair of crises that shook the nation: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the financial meltdown that forced the government to bail out several of the nation’s largest banks in the fall of 2008. In between, the Bush White House was plagued by a series of scandals and controversies, policy failures, and another disaster in the form of Hurricane Katrina. By the end of his second term, Bush had become one of the most unpopular presidents ever as his political allies began working on the long-term project of restoring his legacy.

To that end, the creation of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, opened in April 2013, offered a unique opportunity to attempt to rewrite history.

Located in Dallas, Texas, the Bush Library highlights the major events and policy initiatives that took place during Bush’s time in the White House. But as one might expect, the exhibits give the impression that Bush’s decisions were correct and admirable, while glossing over his failures and the harmful consequences of his actions.

The Economy

The Economy

The Presidential Center claims the Bush tax cuts “led to a sustained period of economic growth,” when in reality, Bush presided over a historically weak economy even before the financial crisis struck at the end of his term. The library also suggests that Bush adequately addressed the crisis before leaving office, despite the devastating job losses and miserable conditions he left for President Obama to deal with.
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War on Terror

War on Terror

The library acknowledges that the WMDs used to justify the Iraq war never materialized, but does not mention the evidence that Bush had been looking for a reason to remove Saddam Hussein since before 9/11. It sugarcoats and misrepresents the tactics used in the war on terror, including the controversies over the Guantanamo Bay detention center and the administration’s ineffective torture program.
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Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina

The human tragedy of Hurricane Katrina became a political nightmare for Bush as a result of his administration’s failed preparation and botched response, but the library still touts Bush’s “crisis management,” ignoring how he loaded FEMA with political allies who had little relevant experience and tried to shift the blame onto local Democratic officials.
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Separation of Powers

Separation of Powers

The center stresses Bush’s belief that judges should “not legislate from the bench,” even though his Supreme Court appointees have changed the ideological makeup of the court and skewed rulings in a conservative direction that particularly favors big business interests.
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Social Security

Social Security

The library portrays Bush’s push to privatize Social Security as having “raised awareness of the problems facing Social Security and how to solve them,” when it was actually a massive policy and political failure that resulted in bipartisan rejection from Congress and the public.
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Environment

Environment

The center's “Protecting The Environment” exhibit can only identify Bush’s designation of protected marine areas and the design of his ranch as his major accomplishments, obscuring the eight years of extreme policies that turned back the clock on environmental progress.
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Education

Education

The library touts Bush’s commitment to education reform by commemorating the passage of No Child Left Behind. But while the legislation originally received bipartisan support, NCLB has fallen mostly short of its stated goals.
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The Missing Wing

The Missing Wing

The Bush Library is most notable for the myriad of infamous failures and powerful figures that it attempts to white wash from history. “Mission Accomplished,” the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the politically charged U.S. Attorney firings, and the revelation of Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA agent are conspicuously absent, while Vice President Dick Cheney and political adviser Karl Rove aren’t afforded space remotely equal to their influence over the eight years that Bush occupied the Oval Office.
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