I would like to take a look at some of the ways that conservatives have suggested that historians may rehabilitate George Bush's reputation. Most of the the arguments will be taken from ChrisB at My Three Cents and RedBlue Christian because they seem to be pretty typical and because he has always been one of my favorite sparring partners.
Regarding 9/11, ChrisB wrote:
Conspiracy theorists not withstanding, I don’t think most people believe the Bush administration “allowed” the attacks to occur. If the administration and/or intelligence community dropped the ball prior to 9/11, they certainly made up for it afterwards. On Sept. 10, 2001, no one believed we could suffer such a blow; on Sept. 12, 2001, no one believed we would go more than a couple of years without another. The seven years that have passed without another incident can certainly be attributed to many things, but anyone who denies the Bush administration’s hand in it is blinded by ideology.
I find the conspiracy theories as silly as Chris does, but I do think that Bush dropped the ball prior to 9/11. I also think that Bush made a big mistake by failing to immediately appoint a commission to figure out what went wrong as Franklin Roosevelt did after Pearl Harbor. The administration took the attitude that the world changed on 9/11 when the truth was that world was the same, but 9/11 showed that we did not understand it. I think that a more careful assessment of what had gone wrong might have led to less impulsive decisions going forward.
Did the administration and intelligence community make up for it afterward? The intelligence on Iraq cannot be seen as anything other than a massive failure both in terms of the lack of WMD and the failure to anticipate the insurgency. History may show that the lack of further attacks is directly attributable to steps taken by the Bush administration and that would certainly burnish Bush's reputation, however, I don't think we will know until a lot of information is declassified and someone within Al Queda describes how they reponded to what the administration did. I think it is still possible to be skeptical without being ideological.